Google today announced that they would no longer allow searching of real estate on Google Maps.
I’ll admit part of writing this post is to point back to my post about six months ago when I said that Google had failed in real estate to date because of their wedded view that people want to use the map interface as their preferred mechanism of searching real estate listings.
The map, in my very strong opinion, is a poor way to search for listings. If anything a search interface by images, similar to the one Like.com was pioneering for shoes and fashion, is a much more efficient way of finding real estate. The location is obviously important but the exact location is a contextual attribute not the primary one.
With that said, I think the move is a fantastic one for Google. Firstly, they’ve admitted they are wrong. This is surprisingly rare in any corporate setting, which leaves the door open to startups every single day. The willingness of startups to admit they’re wrong is a hugely under-rated competitive advantage. So bravo Google.
But that candidness does not permeate to all of Google, though. Here is Eric Chu, a group manager at Google for the Android platform on why they haven’t yet released in-app payments: “Developers were busy with their Christmas applications,” Chu said. “So we couldn’t get enough feedback,” he continued.
Are you fucking serious? Who on earth believes this was the main reason? Given that no one in their right mind would take this at face value, the cream on the cake is that they are hospital passing the blame to their development community – THEIR MOST IMPORTANT SUCCESS DRIVER.
The real estate clean up is likely the result of Marissa Mayer and her move across to local. Although it’s the end of Google Maps and Real Estate, and Google Base in general, I find it hard to believe that Google will leave their classifieds ambitions there. It’s just too important and too close to Google’s core business to ignore for any length of time.
Finally, long time readers of this blog will know of my fascination of Eric Schmidt, essentially seeing him as the luckiest man in the history of the Internet, while after a string of failures and even a low key role in a success (Sun) was foisted upon Google by Kleiner Perkins and who never seemed to do anything let alone understand what business they were in. That was OK because Larry and Sergey agreed with him when he said something they already believed in and over-ruled him on things they didn’t. If it was a triumvirate it was an isosceles triangle and not an equilateral one.
And so it was that investors essentially didn’t care less that he stepped down from CEO as nothing much has really changed except Larry seems to be willing to take on a more public role now. But that wasn’t the last of it. Here is a line that Schmidt tweeted – after being made $6bn richer for the last decade: “Day-to-day adult supervision no longer needed”.
Really? It’s one of those passive-agressive remarks that he can chuckle with Sergey and Larry and they probably chuckle along too and in parallel think WTF? Schmidt can say it’s said in irony but I can’t help but think there is more than an ounce of truth as to what exactly beyond that he provided the company.
My bet is that Schmidt will become the next Jim Barksdale, who after Netscape ramped up a venture fund that made a string of average and poor investments and has drifted off into the ether.