Stafford Masie was the head of Google South Africa up until 2009 and his recent candid confession about Google’s increasing troubles has got to be making top executives at Google’s headquarters cringing. Mr. Masie was speaking at a technology awards show in South Africa last Thursday when he spoke openly about what he feels is evolving in the technology world and what is running out of steam.
Mr. Masie explained that he feels that Google’s traditional way of doing search is slowly dying and there is no future for it. He said that people are doing more of their searches on social media websites and not the traditional way they used to depend exclusively on search engines. Mr. Masie attempted to backtrack his very blunt statement about Google’s future by saying that he does not think Google, as a whole, is dying but rather Google’s search is becoming increasingly useless in a changing world. Despite his efforts to backtrack a bit on his statement, he probably made it worse – that’s because Google IS search.
That’s even how the company sells itself and how the media has been selling Google for years now. Google is often called the leader of search – the “search giant”! To many, Google might actually be synonymous with the word “search” itself. So for Mr. Masie to say that traditional search is dying, he’s essentially saying that Google, as a whole, is doomed.
Has much as Mr. Masie’s very honest comment about Google’s business will make his former bosses very uncomfortable, he is not alone in thinking that Google’s best years are more or less behind it. In fact, if you examine the recent changes Google has made, even Google would agree that its business is changing – but I think it is safe to assume that they probably would not use the same words as Mr. Masie.
Google, last summer, came out with its copycat version of Facebook. This was a clear attempt to try to gain on Facebook’s lead but Google so far does not stand a chance against the social networking juggernaut. Google executives have admitted on numerous occasions that they missed the boat with social media. Now that social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter are attracting huge attention, Google is extremely worried.
Google knows that the future of search and interaction is going to be intertwined with social networking. It also knows that advertisers are flocking away to Twitter and Facebook to spend their money on those websites which offer a more direct connection to their potential customers. Without the support of advertisers, Google is dead, finished, done, hasta la vista, put on a fork in it, sayanora! Over 90% of Google’s revenues depend heavily on advertising.
Now, Google is desperate to make their copycat website of Facebook, which they call “Google Plus”, a success. CEO of Google, Larry Page, desperately wants to beat Mark Zuckerberg, who’s the founder of Facebook. There are already stories all over the media about how these two men are fierce enemies – describing Google’s Page as the out-of-touch aged search giant ‘geek’ and Facebook’s Zuckerberg as the fresh new talent out to make the world more connected.
Larry Page has made Google Plus a number one priority now – which, quite frankly, is too little too late. Mr. Page wants Google Plus to be an “extension” of Google itself – meaning that they no longer want Google to be that place that quickly sends people off to the destination they were searching for, but rather now they want people to spend time on Google much longer. Google wants to keep you on their websites and have you share your personal information with them so they can sell it to advertisers. So they definitely recognize that their traditional way of doing business is indeed dying.
To read the article by Jan Vermeulen on this story, you can click here