Apex of The Vortex of The Future
This is where it all comes together. A few minutes browsing this blog will reveal several common themes. I dig yammering about voice recognition and near field communication because they are extremely useful technologies, plus, they light up the part of my brain that responds to living in a Jetsons episode. I jump on any opportunity to talk about how Google+ fell off like a bad bag of dope, and why they can’t get it together. This week they all come together in the context of question I posed a couple weeks back about artistic integrity and the fine line between inspired imitation and intellectual larceny.
In the context of a Guinness Ad that appropriates its direction from Requiem For A Dream, I asked if copying or stealing ideas was an inevitable or acceptable practice in the creative world. After many hours of book-larnin’ and brain-thinkin’ I came to a couple conclusions. For better or worse, good ideas are going to be repeated over and over. You might even go as far as to say there are only a handful of good, original, ideas, that have been refurbished, refabricated, and repackaged over and over throughout time. Regardless of whether imitating ideas is inevitable, it remains impossible to make a blanket assertion about whether or not it is wrong. In this moral vacuum, I posit one maxim for all men to accord equally, “If you are going to step to someone else’s game, you HAVE GOT TO BRING THE HEAT!”
Google consistently brings a knife to the gunfight. Google+ was late out of the gates and has been lagging behind Facebook since the first turn. When it decided to play Facebook at its own game, it failed to bring an ace up its sleeve. Every aspect is an imitation of a Facebook feature. Circles expanded beyond privacy settings only slightly, but ultimately crashed and burned while trying to do a barrel roll. Suggested friends was not suggested by anyone to their friends. A weak attempt to one-up likes, +1 never amounted to much. The recent GMail mobile app was a GFail and had to be returned to sender. Just a few years ago Google was an innovator for putting our mail and docs in the cloud, but now they are trying to trying to pick up the pieces as iCloud makes it rain.
Now search, the very thing the Google platform is founded on, is being threatened. Gary Morganthaler, the first Siri investor, spells out in this Rip Emerson article that Siri’s search paradigm is more desirable than Google’s, because “A million blue links from Google is worth far less than one correct answer from Siri. People don’t really want search engines. . . they want ‘do’ engines.” Siri’s search function uses natural language. Its not necessary to pretend to also be a robot in the way you speak or phrase questions to get a response. If you can trust Siri’s judgement, she will take you from your query to one final resolution, filling in forms and authorizations along the way with your verbal permission. This is perhaps what makes Siri a personal assistant and not just a search interface.
Google needs to stop trying to beat other guys at their own game. Quit copying ideas and get a new one, or at least a different old one. They need get their own game on lock, and then they need to get some new swag going. Google needs to beat competitors to the punch on something, or they are going to have to relocate or reincarnate. Innovate or die. If Google wants to stop being invited late for the orgy, it needs to throw its own party.
The best thing Google has on deck in this department is Google Wallet. As previously stated, I’m down with NFC technology and sometimes obsess over it. Clearly the social networking realm is not safe water for Google to tread. Instead two clear choices persist. They can either forge ahead into a somewhat uncharted wilderness, or stay put and strengthen their encampment at Fort Search. Unfortunately, neither is a sure bet, now. Johnny Evans posits the interesting idea that Apple may be holding back a few steps behind Google Wallet, “leading from behind,” letting Google step on the land mine in the rice paddy.
I have cousin with a hook for a hand. When I was a kid I asked my dad about it. He told me my cousin blew his hand off accidentally igniting a homemade firecracker (pill bottle of gunpowder) he was holding. A more reactionary 8 year old might have shunned fireworks altogether. I settled on briefly adopting a strict 4th of July policy of “You hold it, I’ll light it.” Maybe this is how Apple is playing out this round. Whether or not, Google has little choice but to focus on holding down its core function, or dropping a major innovation bomb on the computing world. We’ll just have to wait and see what’s next to blow up in its face.