Low Usage Numbers Not so Alarming for Google

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.

Ebay Scared of Google

Reuters (and the WSJ – Reg. Req.) is reporting that Ebay has:

had talks with both Yahoo Inc and Microsoft Corp to determine whether one of them might be a suitable ally against common threats from Google Inc

Apparently, they are scared because in the last year they have witnessed Google “assaulting its turf in multiple ways”.

I don’t know about you, but I think that Ebay’s poor performance recently should be attributed more to mistakes and lack of initiative on their part, rather than an invasion by Google:

  • The purchase of Skype, though risky and full of initiative, has yet to pay off for them in producing any sizable percentage of new revenue of users
  • Their basic interface and sales model has not changed in years. Though this is not something that is necessarily required, in Ebay’s case I think that a more user-friendly, intuitive and less-complicated design is in order.
  • The one thing that any Ebay user can count on is higher fees once or twice a year. Not a good way to keep your bulk customers
  • Does anyone really think that Google Base is eating into their marketshare? If they are, whose fault is that?

If anything, I think that the biggest threat right now is Craigslist. It is much easier to use, much more popular, and spreading like wildfire (and you can’t beat the price).

So what is their big solution to the “Google Threat”?

An alliance in which eBay would boost its advertising spending with its chosen partner and provide access to data it has collected about its consumers

I am sure that Google is quaking in their boots right now.

Google Finance Released

Google Finance has now officially entered into beta.

The site has some features that already set it apart from the other main finance sites (yahoo, cnn, marketwatch, reuters, etc). Most of the other sites feature a static display, giving you one look at a companies data (detailed, summary, charts, news, filings, etc) with other option accessible through sidebar navigation.

Google FinanceGoogle takes the general concept (provide useful information about a stock) and makes it much better.

  1. Dynamic AJAX-based charting
    • Click on a time-span, the chart automatically resizes to that span
    • You can see a faded chart of the last five years right above the main chart. The section you are looking at is highlighted. To move to a different section, simply drag the highlighted area. To change your time-spam, drag and drop the edges of the highlighted area. Couldn’t be easier
  2. Dynamic AJAX-based news
    • To the right of the chart, the top news items for the period you are focusing on appear
    • On the chart, there is a letter indicating when each news item occured. This can be very useful when trying to correlate news events with stock events
    • Refresh the chart time-span >> the news items are refreshed
    • If you hover over the “related news items” link for any of the displayed items, it will dynamically display related headlines
  3. Smart layout
    • As mentioned above, most other sites display one piece of content, with links to other content. Google Finance displays all of the content on one screen. Each section dislpays what you would want to see about a company at first glance, with links to more information
      • Company Facts
      • Company Summary
      • Company Financials
      • Management (with AJAX-hover popups to give details about each person)
      • Related Companies
      • More Resources
    • Despite the large amount of items on the page, it is done tastefully – no large graphics, illegible fonts. Plain white background. Easy to read.
  4. No Ads!!
  5. Blog links
    • Find out what blogs are saying about the company.
    • This is such a simple, but useful feature. Every week you hear about how some news released on a blog causes a stock to go up or down 5%. None of the other finance sites have this useful feature.

All things together, Google Finance has come the closest yet from any site on the Internet to providing the optimal balance between showing a user all of the information that they need to know to get a good snapshot of a stock, in an easy-to-use (and useful) interface.