Tuesday, March 31, 2009

The Most Disturbing Part About Twitter

...is that suddenly people like John Cleese, Shaq, and Ted Nugent have a better understanding of an applied technology than I do.

Jason Belmonte, Bowling Radical

Two days ago, an Australian man named Jason Belmonte walked away with the PBA tour title.  He's the first person to win using a two-handed technique:


Apparently, involving both hands allows him to achieve a greater amount of spin (630rpm versus the average professional's 400rpm), creating a significantly more forceful pin strike.

It's amazing to me that a sport as old and as simple as bowling can be revolutionized by single, somewhat obvious innovation.  I suppose Jason Belmonte can now join the ranks of Dick Fosbury, Rick Barry, Pete Gogolak, and other sports luminaries who did things the "wrong" way to great effect.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Google, we hardly knew ye

News broke today of Google's latest wave of layoffs-- 200 employees in marketing and sales.  This adds to the 100 layoffs in recruitment and the 40 in the now-defunct radio program.  So, 340 since January. 

The company wrote:

"In some areas we've created overlapping organizations," Google said. "We over-invested in some areas in preparation for the growth trends we were experiencing at the time."

Two years ago, the phrase "overlapping organizations" would have been unthinkable in the same breath as "Google".  Now, it's hardly a surprise-- In fact, their stock actually rallied today despite the announcement.  Google, once organized into perfect and discrete elements, now sprawls into social networking sites and blogs-- a sort of slow bloodletting for its formerly iconic brand image.

Its core applications like Mail, Maps, and Docs have been suffering at the hands of the Labs, Gadgets, Themes, Gears, "Older Version", and other features that have added complexity without improving extensibility.  What's worse is that these features are totally inconsistent-- Labs and Themes only work for Mail, Gadgets only works for Sites and iGoogle, Offline only works in certain browsers at certain times.  Of course, none of these things work in Google Apps. 

Confused yet?  I am.

I don't think it's premature to say that the Google is finished as an innovator.  Many large tech companies have followed a similar arc:  A single great brand that spawns an entire culture, leading to the hiring of young talent, bonuses, a blockbuster IPO, and years of industry dominance, followed by a slow dissolution of the brand as the company grabs at new and seductive revenue streams.

Obviously, this isn't the end of Google.  With the sheer amount of talent and money they have locked up, they'll continue to release new and sometimes excellent products.  The game-changers, though, are all used up.