Techcrunch is reporting on the low usage numbers Google products (specifically their Google Talk IM program) have compared to some of their competitors. Here are some more numbers regarding Google and their competition, from the NY Times. Though Michael notes that the scores given do not include usage of the program through the embedded client-software in Gmail, the numbers are still pretty shabby. He recommends that Google “roll some heads and figure out a real product strategy.”
While “rolling some heads” every once in a while is not such a bad idea, I do not think that the Google product line is in as much danger as one might think. The New York Times story referenced earlier (In the Race With Google, It�s Consistency vs. �Wow�) hints at the reason: Although Google might be losing the footrace in terms of numbers when it comes to news, email and IM, they are making up for it in terms of quality and most importantly, the “Wow” factor. They use the type of technology that the techies and Slashdot crowd like (compare Google Finance with Yahoo Finance to see what I mean), and this most-important sector of the market is the ones who are driving tomorrows technology trends. Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL have had years to build up huge subscriber bases with Email and IM, so it is understandable that Google has a long way to go. However, their growth is stagnating and their products are not so attractive compared to what Google (and other similar companies) have to offer. Put it this way: whenever I hear from a friend or acquaintance that they set up a new email account for personal use, 99% of the time it is a gmail account. That is why these numbers don’t really seem to me to be such bad news for Google int he long-term. They do not capture the overall market trend, especially among the market-movers.