Throwing Mud Against the Wall

21 Jun ’06

CNN’s runs a breathless “star money manager thinks X” piece on the dangers of investing in Google. The article may well be right about that – who really knows – but one discussion caught my attention:

Kobrick said that Google clearly has a great product, but that alone isn’t enough to make it a good stock. He worries that the company is still experimenting with how else to make money beyond search advertising.

The company has launched many new products over the past few months, and while each product release tends to generate breathless hype, there is little indication yet if any of them will be big profit generators for Google.

“Google’s throwing a lot of mud against the wall to see what sticks. That’s pretty scary,” Kobrick said.

This tracks a meme that has gotten a lot of attention in the ‘sphere in past weeks, and it might well be right, but I don’t see this as scary – I see it as healthy. Where else do ideas come from? And doesn’t a company the size of Google get to do some R&D? And when it does, can’t it do it publicly – just to see what, er, sticks, with the users? The Google Labs concept – or any alpha or beta release programs, for that matter – have always struck me as a ridiculously clever way to get users involved in product testing and development.

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