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Can Google succeed at everything?

A couple of months ago, I laid out Google’s emerging strategy to compete with everyone and everything, and to do it all solo. Unlike competitors (even large ones such as Microsoft and Facebook) that must ally to compete with Google, the Big G is determined to fight everyone and win.

All of which is cool. But the question is, “Can Google pull it off?”

For any other company, you’d quickly conclude that these ambitions are completely out-sized to their capabilities. I mean, who could afford such a strategy? Um, Google can.

Google’s core advertising business throws off more cash than the giant even knows what to do with. Google can decide that it wants to win the social network race, so it can toss cash into Google Wave, Google Buzz, and now Google+–just keep throwing social networks at the wall until one sticks.

So, Google has the money–in fact, they have a lot of cash around, which is not always the sign of success. Sometimes wallowing in cash is the sign of a company that does not know how to invest its cash any better than having it sit in the bank. Sometimes it is a sign that money is coming in so fast that management doesn’t know what to do with it.

Which brings us to the point.

It might be possible that Google can spend enough money to hire enough people to do everything that Sergey and Larry want to do, but are there enough ideas? Can management’s attention be spread this thin? Can even those Google geniuses manage all of these different initiatives?

I’ve worked for and with many large companies. Google is starting to show signs of big company disease.  You can find your own examples, but does anyone really know why Google needs to have the Android and the Chrome operating systems? I mean, one runs phones, the other runs computers, and, uh, they both run tablets. What’s wrong with this picture?

Since Larry Page ascended to the CEO chair, he’s garnered much praise from eliminating failing projects to bring needed focus to Google.  But the number of projects he has not eliminated would choke a horse–even a Clydesdale like Google. With Microsoft, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, and other companies all starting to encroach on each others’ businesses, it will be interesting to see if even the seemingly endless resources of Google will be enough to maat even one-third of the ideas they have on the board.

My money is on Google having an impact, but ultimately being only part of the ecosystem, eventually needing to partner with other companies to win in new areas. What do you think?

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Mike Moran

Mike Moran is an expert in digital marketing, search technology, social media, text analytics, web personalization, and web metrics, who, as a Certified Speaking Professional, regularly makes speaking appearances. Mike’s previous appearances include keynote speaking appearances worldwide. Mike serves as a senior strategist for Converseon, an AI powered consumer intelligence technology and consulting firm. He is also a senior strategist for SoloSegment, a marketing automation software solutions and services firm. Mike also serves as a member of the Board of Directors of SEMPO. Mike spent 30 years at IBM, rising to Distinguished Engineer, an executive-level technical position. Mike held various roles in his IBM career, including eight years at IBM’s customer-facing website, ibm.com, most recently as the Manager of ibm.com Web Experience, where he led 65 information architects, web designers, webmasters, programmers, and technical architects around the world. Mike's newest book is Outside-In Marketing with world-renowned author James Mathewson. He is co-author of the best-selling Search Engine Marketing, Inc. (with fellow search marketing expert Bill Hunt), now in its Third Edition. Mike is also the author of the acclaimed internet marketing book, Do It Wrong Quickly: How the Web Changes the Old Marketing Rules, named one of best business books of 2007 by the Miami Herald. Mike founded and writes for Biznology® and writes regularly for other blogs. In addition to Mike’s broad technical background, he holds an Advanced Certificate in Market Management Practice from the Royal UK Charter Institute of Marketing and is a Visiting Lecturer at the University of Virginia’s Darden School of Business. He also teaches at Rutgers Business School. He is a Senior Fellow at the Society for New Communications Research. Mike worked at ibm.com from 1998 through 2006, pioneering IBM’s successful search marketing program. IBM’s website of over two million pages was a classic “big company” website that has traditionally been difficult to optimize for search marketing. Mike, working with Bill Hunt, developed a strategy for search engine marketing that works for any business, large or small. Moran and Hunt spearheaded IBM’s content improvement that has resulted in dramatic gains in traffic from Google and other internet portals.

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