The Danger of Google's Development Cadence

Google indicated at this week's I/O conference that it's going to implement a six-week cadence, or advancement cycle, for Google Play. It's not a huge surprise, as 93 percent of Google Play users are already on this cadence, but it means Google will materially change its products far faster than anyone else has ever attempted.

This goes to the old belief that if you can get out in front and run faster than anyone else, you can't be caught. It also points to a potential problem: Head in the wrong direction - and Google is known for not listening to customers, partners or, for that matter, governments - and you could be far off course before you're able to change direction. This makes this strategy more risky than advantageous. In addition, folks don't like change. Windows XP is more than a decade old and largely obsolete, but users still embrace it like a lifesaver after their ship capsizes in stormy seas.

This is a good example of why engineers alone shouldn't set policy. Mathematically, this strategy looks brilliant. Take into account human behavior, though, and it looks suicidal. That's not to say it can't work - but, without the proper controls, it almost certainly won't work.

Don't Go Fast Until You Know Where You're Going

One of my first formal classes in competitive analysis always stuck with me. The instructor drew a typical X/Y chart, with speed increasing to the right and direction represented by altitude. The faster a company went, and the more correct its direction, the higher and farther to the right its point on the graph.

The instructor pointed out that virtually all companies focus on speed first, and then direction, before making a major mistake. This is like sprinting as fast as you can without knowing the distance or topography of a road race. There are an infinite number of directions, but only a few right ones. You're certain to be running full speed in the wrong direction unless you first focus on direction.

What's Right Can Be What's Popular

There's a detailed list going around of the number of times Google has acted against the best interests of its customers, with a government body often taking punitive action as a result. Google could easily avoid the vast majority of these problems by taking a bit more time to think about the rights it would like to preserve for itself. One in particular stands out: The European Union ruling that people have the right to be forgotten, to delete information that presents them in an unreasonably bad light.

Back in 2005, Google blacklisted CNET after the news site published personal information obtained from a simple Google search on then-President Eric Schmidt. That means Google executives knew nine years ago the information being provided in Google search results was excessive - but while they aggressively protected themselves, they didn't move to protect users until ordered to do so by the EU. Google clearly knew that users wanted what the EU was demanding, because its own leaders wanted it, too, but the firm had to be forced to do the right thing.

Both the existence of the list and its size suggest that Google tends to start running without making sure it's going the right way. This also helps explain Google, despite significant increases to its product portfolio, still makes most of its money from the same sources it did a decade ago.

Given that Google is a big data company, it should step back and make sure it has in place a mechanism to assure that it's moving in the right direction for users and customers before focusing on increasing its cadence. Otherwise, that list will explode - and Google could suddenly have a large number of concurrent government events on its hands like the ones that crippled IBM and Microsoft and took down Standard Oil, RCA, AT&T and Enron.

Always assure direction before you focus on speed. Otherwise you'll put a ton of effort into creating problems at a rate you can't possibly deal with.

Rob Enderle is president and principal analyst of the Enderle Group. Previously, he was the Senior Research Fellow for Forrester Research and the Giga Information Group. Prior to that he worked for IBM and held positions in Internal Audit, Competitive Analysis, Marketing, Finance and Security. Currently, Enderle writes on emerging technology, security and Linux for a variety of publications and appears on national news TV shows that include CNBC, FOX, Bloomberg and NPR.

Follow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.

Read more about google in CIO's Google Drilldown.

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Blog Posts

5 cornerstones of a strong digital culture

Creating a strong company culture may sound like a daunting task, but it’s actually pretty straightforward. In fact, company culture is created in exactly the same fashion as a religion or democracy. Behaviours created from the organisation’s inception are reinforced over time by leadership, attracting like-minded people and eventually reaching critical mass to become an accepted ‘truth’.

Anthony Stevens

Founder and CEO, Digital Asset Ventures

Should you rebuild your company’s tech stack in blockchain?

The question I get asked most regularly these days is: ‘Do I need to rebuild my company’s systems on Blockchain?’ And the answer, every time, is ‘No, you’re asking the wrong question’.

Michelle O'Keeffe

CEO, Engaging.io

Customer value proposition: Getting the brand promise to your customers right

Throughout my career, I have witnessed a litany of brand names that profess to have a unique customer value proposition (CVP). In reality, however, they’ve had little more than a ‘value proposition’: A simple list of benefits applied to a general audience.

Ric Navarro

Global director of marketing and communications, Norman, Disney & Young

RE: Sales and marketing SLAs, often the choke point isn't the teams but them getting the data into the tools they want to use with the da...

Ed Fry

Why sales and marketing alignment is more important than ever

Read more

Amazing article Mitchell. I really enjoyed the read. Chatbots will be critical in the future evolution of banking and financial services ...

Giridhar Prathap Reddy

7 businesses successfully implementing chatbots

Read more

Thank you for the good and very helpful information. It is very interesting. I love all the things you share and see your beautiful creat...

รัตนาวดี ภูมิวรรณ

Former eHarmony marketing chief joins telco startup

Read more

Colin Kaepernick, not Mike Kapernick.

thisisw

Zenith's innovation leader: Mid-digital age not benefitting media, brands or consumers

Read more

AGA KHAN HOSPITAL is in need of kidney donors for the sum of 2 crore, Contact us today if you want to sell your kidney for money, and thi...

Sebastian Friedrich

Mindshare gets behind blockchain advertising alliance

Read more

Latest Podcast

More podcasts

Sign in