Google – not using its full potential

Google used to be all about the search engine, but then it started going into other side businesses. Among others Google started with Gmail, Android and many others. By dividing its attention it was harder to really succeed in that specific business branch. Some say this is a good thing, others don’t; what follows is my personal opinion on the matter.

Google was founded as a simple search engine, but has grown into the best known and most used search engine in the world. Many other search engines have tried to copy the idea, but all have failed so far. Very soon Google known as a company that could mean something for you.

After a couple of years, Google started to go into other businesses too. At Google they saw there where a lot of ways they could improve the internet experience of their users. Starting with Gmail, which in my eyes, revolutionised the electronic mail industry. I had a Hotmail account before I got my hands on a beta account on Gmail. Although in the beginning it lacked some major features, I could immediately see the potential. There were different reasons for that. For one, the mails you sent, were truly yours. There were no advertisements at the bottom of every mail like there was in Hotmail. Besides that,you also had the search capabilities of Google itself, which means you had no problem finding that one mail you thought you lost. That meant of course you couldn’t delete any mails that could later be important. But Google solved that storage problem by giving you a lot of free space. This of course meant they had more information about you (from the mails you send), but that is a different discussion.

By focusing a lot of its attention to Gmail, Google created a very useful tool that has been working perfectly since the beginning. Even now, there haven’t been that much improvements for the user. If you think about what major features you had in the day, that you still use now? Or the other way around, what features you have now, you hadn’t in the first year of public Gmail beta? I can’t think of a lot: labels and folders. And even those were available soon, if u remember correctly. Others features were already available soon after the release. But the integration with Google’s other technologies has since improved massively.

Later Google started working on Web clients to replace your local desktop clients. Google Drive, as we know it now, was born. It started with a minimum amount of editing options for simple documents, as you would expect of a beta version. But in my opinion, this hasn’t really changed now. After all these years, Google Drive still lacks some important features. I would have expected those features a long time ago. This compared to the support you get from the een client of Outlook. The Outlook Web client has the same features as the desktop client, and this something I expected from Google too. For example editing simple documents and adding some formatting isn’t really possible on Google Drive, at least not in the way you/I would expect.

The reason Google Drive still lacks so much, is because Google has become too big. Is focusing on to many different areas, so it can’t focus its attention in one direction anymore. For example you can take Android. Google still focuses a lot of its energy on Android, like it should. Just enough energy to keep it one of the major mobile operating systems available. Fighting in the ring most of the time with iOS, the mobile operating systems of Apple. Because it’s not using its full potential, Google still has a lot of competition. Because of this competition a lot of new ideas and technologies are born every day. Would Google have decided to go all-in on Android, there wouldn’t have been a lot of competition. This would probably mean that those ideas would die out. The best ideas are born when there is a competition you have to beat. This is the natural instincts of humans to be better than the others.

So actually, by not going all-in, Google is saving the industry. That means that Google can go over to the next technology that it can improve, and become one of the best in. That being said, in some things Google should put more energy though.

For example Google Calendar (integration), why is this still not up there with other calendar clients. It has been steadily improved over the years with small updates every time. But none that really stand out. I would have expected a better integration with Gmail. For example creating appointments from a mail you received. This is a feature that is available in other mail clients for years now.

A couple of months ago, Google released Inbox, currently still being invite only. In my opinion it started with a good idea, but is still missing things I would have expected in the first release. The main thing I’m thinking about is mail signatures. I know they probably first wanted to find out what the general public thinks about the concept of Inbox. But who at Google would have thought we would use the app for sending mails without signatures. For that reason I’m still using Gmail 90% of the time. Sending mails happens from the Gmail application on my phone, and not from the Inbox application. It wasn’t long after Inbox was released in public beta that I got my hands on an invite. And ever since I’m using the application and website, I haven’t seen a single major update. That is once again the problem with Google focusing its attention in too many things.

To conclude, I’m still a big fan of Google, and I understand they don’t focus all their attention on one point. But sometimes I would love it if a little more focus was used on their inventions.

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Belgian Computer Science student at Ghent University with scuba diving as a hobby and making applications as a passion.

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