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Why Does Google Struggle with Its Business Image?

Why Does Google Struggle with Its Business Image?

In the world of technology, there is nothing that feels as ubiquitous as Google. Even its fellow Big Tech companies – Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Microsoft – do not have its spider-web like influence. The statistics are staggering: 92.94% search engine market share worldwide; 72.2% market share for mobile operating systems (Android phones and tablets); 70-75% market share for email clients (Gmail). Those are just a few examples of its dominance, and we should remember that Alphabet Inc has many other influential products, ranging from YouTube to Stadia, Nest to FitBit.

However, while Google touches almost every digitally connected life on the planet, one area where it does not have much of a stranglehold is in business. Of course, we don’t mean that Google lacks a presence in business, nor that it isn’t eminently successful with some of its business-related products. Just, well, google “Google for business”, and you will be bombarded with a range of ideas, products, and solutions. Our point is that Google’s reputation as a provider of enterprise-quality products for business is sorely lacking, and it lags behind its rivals.

In fact, it has become something of a running joke in the tech industry to count the number of “dead” products removed from the Google family. Some opine that a typical Google product has a shelf life of a year or so, then it will be removed or else incorporated into something else. Theories abound as to the problem, with some claiming “Google hates marketing”, whereas some claim that the company is “bad at innovating”, which is ironic given its reputation.

Google Has a Disconnect in its Collaboration Tools

When it comes to business IT solutions, the most frustrating thing is clearly the disconnect in Google’s products. Consider this passage taken from a May 2021 post on

“Take messaging for example of Google’s inability to offer a streamlined experience that will see support for years to come. There’s no shortage of ways Android users can message and talk to one another via Google’s services. You have the standard Messages app, Duo, Chat, Google Voice, Hangouts, and probably more. That list used to also include Allo and Google+, but you know, Google. The point for messaging I’m trying to make is, instead of just biting the bullet and taking the time and resources to create a single service for messaging, similar to what Apple has for iMessage, Google users are forced to jump around from app to app in order to get things done.”

There are so many options for messages. And, as the poster says, why not streamline them all into one service with an individual identity. Google, to be fair, is stepping up its efforts to bring a unified service through G-Suite, which is now called Workspace (Google also loves a product name change). But for many businesses, it will be too late. Google’s reputation as a ditherer in business communications has already cost it dearly.

Spike and Others Are Better Alternatives

Businesses have come to count on options like Teams and Slack, or arguably the most reliable Google Workspace alternative, Spike. The latter has seen the light when it comes to integrating multiple tools into one platform, combining email, messaging, voice, and video calls for an all-in-one business collaboration tool.

So what if Google’s revamped Workspace is the bee’s knees for business? Well, the problem is that this is about reputation, and companies want reliability. Why would you be excited about Google’s next venture when you have watched the demise of so many other similar products. If we are talking about enterprise collaboration, email, and messaging tools, we saw the likes of Google Wave, Talk, Allo and many others disappear – why won’t Workspace?

And that’s the rub. If you look at an alternative like Slack or Spike, or even the often-maligned Microsoft Teams, the people behind those products tend to believe in them. Google’s ventures seem half-hearted, as if there is a lack of passion or confidence. The company has vast resources, enough to carve out a place for itself in business with collaborative tools. But its many failures, changes of tactics, and frustrating disconnect suggest that there is no plan to better this aspect of their offerings.

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by Harvey Carr // Harvey Carr is a contributor to Businessing Magazine.

Opinions expressed by contributors are their own.