The complaints seem to range from Google getting distracted from their core mission to just putting out incomplete or bad products.
I disagree with both ideas.Â First, their core mission has been organizing information and allowing people to find it, and the tools they’ve been building and releasing all do have to do with organizing and working with information.Â And, at this point their core revenue model is advertising from Adwords ads showing up in search results and in Adsense.Â The main dangers to that revenue model are someone making it obsolete in some way, or Google losing search volume and losing Adsense publishers.Â Creating these free tools people use keeps people involved in the Google brand, thus making searchers more likely to use Google Search, advertisers more likely to think of advertising with Google, and publishers more likely to work with Adsense.
As to whether the products are revolutionary enough doesn’t matter that much.Â Google Spreadsheet isn’t revolutionary, and it’s not better than Excel.Â However, it’s good enough for a lot of Excel users, it’s free, and it’s on the web meaning users don’t need to fumble around with if it’s installed or not.
Here’s a way I like to think about web product development.Â When my 4 year-old daughter needs a spreadsheet application to start doing her first school projects or financial work on it, which is she more likely to use?Â Pay $269 for Office to get Excel?Â Or use a free and simple web-based application like Google Spreadsheet?Â I know which way I’ll be pointing her when that time comes.
That’s the thing, Google has time.Â The product doesn’t need to be perfect now, they’ve got the size and momentum that they’ll get users simply on their name and their Google-like ability to make things pretty darn easy to use.Â Will they be the best spreadsheet application in 8 years when my daughter needs it?Â I have no idea, but they should probably be trying.