In private conversations recently I’ve found myself being quite critical of Google’s track record in innovation. I’ve been saying that their search product is deteriorating and that outside of search the only business line they’ve really got working well is Android, and amazing though the success is even that has seen significant compromise as they allowed carriers to (ab)use the software to push their own services rather than sticking with their original ambition of truly revolutionising the mobile value chain.
Three developments over the last couple of weeks have got me thinking that before long I might have to change my tune:
- Google belatedly changed their search algorithm to take action against the content farms that have been gumming up our search results – just a few days in the changes look like they are having a meaningful impact, although surprisingly Demand Media seems like it is emerging unscathed. These changes are only partly based on data from the Personal Blocklist Chrome extension, which is pretty cool in its own right.
- Chrome is getting a bunch of cool new features that is making it more and more like an OS, including the ability to have apps running in the background (i.e. without a tab open),
- Google Docs got a boost with viewer support for a bunch of new file types (including Microsoft Excel) and the release of Google Cloud Connect which syncs Windows desktop MS Office files to Google Docs
If these changes live up to their potential in a few months Google could be looking a whole lot smarter. People might have stopped complaining about the search results and Chrome/Google docs might be looking like a real threat to the Microsoft Windows/Office monopoly.
At that point the complaints will shift back to Google being a monopolist