april schadenfreude

April 3, 2016

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I couldn’t help but revel in Google’s Mic Drop fiasco these past few days. The company that wants to bring you the best of artificial intelligence like AlphaGo seems to have left all its organic intelligence at the door when it conceived the Mic Drop April Fools’ joke. How else could you explain the Minion Mic Drop gag that went so far as to replace a key Google Mail feature (Send and Archive) with the “Send + Mic Drop” gag button (Google says it was “too close”, but whatever), triggering all sorts of unintended, negative consequences.

Google’s problem is their arrogant cultural attitude that they can do no wrong, when history is so full of examples that they can (Buzz, Wave, Glass, Plus, etc). Even their successes have caveats; self-driving cars work only with carefully mapped streets and can’t deal very well with dynamic environments; while Android has around 80% of the world mobile market it’s so fragmented across all its handset partners it can’t get important bug fixes out in a timely fashion; their AI’s are very focused on one very specific problem (Go, for example); or the fact then even when they have a truly successful application like Mail, that they can’t leave well enough alone, making questionable enhancements that at times are enough to drive a mad-man crazy. If I didn’t have correspondence and a presence with Google Mail that goes back to 2005 I’d have left it years ago…

Google makes oodles of money, primarily via advertising. So they can have these little experiments and jokes so long as they don’t impact the primary money maker, advertising. And as long as these questionable decisions, such as this year’s April Fool’s joke don’t impact that cash flow, Google really won’t learn anything important and we’ll continue to suffer with them all.

Why not leave Google? Because, in general, there’s no-one else out there that’s better enough to reward the time and effort to switch. I’m still with Google because, as in politics and wireless service providers, I’ve chosen what I consider the least of all evils. At least I can be thankful that Google isn’t like Yahoo…