Google’s Alphabet Shakeup Is a Huge Improvement; I Don’t Like That

Brad Shimmin
Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • With Alphabet now holding the reins of Google, a more traditional, more focused vision should make products like Google Apps for Business more appropriate for the enterprise by introducing a more stable evolution of capabilities.
  • But, with a tighter focus within Google itself, will the industry lose out on what were frequently disruptive, sometimes crazy but quite often game-changing innovations from Google proper?

I’ve had some time to think about the recent corporate reorganization at the company formerly known as Google but now referred to as Alphabet, and while I was initially skeptical, I now truly believe that this move will make products like Google Apps for Business much more appealing to enterprise buyers. With high-value interests like Search, Android, YouTube, Apps, Maps, and Ads all housed within a single corporate entitle (Google), enterprises of all sizes (not just those within the long tail) will be able to look forward to many improvements such as a more consistent and transparent rate of innovation as well as improved cross product synergies… perhaps a [cough!] unified API.

It will also leave parent company Alphabet free to innovate, to pursue all manner of interesting opportunities, be those WiFi balloons in (almost) space, self-driving cars, or AI-infused thermostats. Everyone should win with meaningful programs such as Space X gaining some much-needed breathing room and independence. Likewise, we could all (particularly enterprise buyers) see more from tried-and-true products like Google Apps as those garner some welcome insulation from potential disruption from programs like Space X.

I don’t like that.

What if we lose the magic that made Google a great, albeit flawed nexus for the “what if”? What if the engineers working tirelessly in the service of mundane priorities such as building a more effective predictive data model for displaying contextual ads no longer find the opportunities, resources, and encouragement to take on crazy but ultimately game-changing ideas like Project Soli. This little (and I mean, literally little) project, showcased at Google I/O this spring, came out of Google’s Advanced Technology and Projects (ATAP) group and showed how a simple camera and tiny Doppler radar could quite literally reinvent the idea of user input. Why, Soli could actually convert my horrendous air guitar into some actual, really horrendous guitar music. Game changing to be sure.

Yes, of course things will be better in terms of Google’s ability to operate as a traditional company seeking enterprise dollars. We should see more enterprise-focused partnerships as with hardware manufacturer Dell, which just launched a professional-grade Chromebook, for example. Google should also be susceptible to accusations of market monopolization via search dominance. Though with several interrelated and dominant market solutions such as Android, Search, Ads, et al. still under one umbrella, investigations into unfair business practices (like that of the European Union) may still continue and perhaps even escalate.

Okay, all is not lost. ATAP will remain within Google proper, as will a number of seriously differentiating and market-changing ideas like Project Fi. But, I still worry that this change will in some way diminish the power and powerful insanity that has made Google the global powerhouse that felt it necessary to reinvent itself as a holding firm. We have seen what happens when companies turn into holding firms. Does anyone remember what made Computer Associations (now CA) great? I truly hope for more with Google.

What do you think?

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