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Google Meme Tracker...Yawn.

A few years ago if you were a start-up and Google launched a competing product (Froogle, GoogleBase, etc.) in your space, it was enough to make you worry for your life. Pretty soon though, it became clear that there was really nothing to fear though. My revised thinking was that when Google entered into new area (Google local news, Google health, etc.) it was actually good for the competition: it validated the space. That turned out not to be true as well. So now when I see Google has launched a new non-search product like Google Meme Tracker (or knol, lively, etc.) I think...yawn.

To be honest, Google's meme tracker is such a non-event now that its even difficult to write an impassioned blog post explaining why its a non-event. In fact, if this story sounds familiar it should. Its happened to lots of other companies. Yahoo, for example, created a nifty directory in 1990's and supplemented it with a free email product. Cool. That naturally led them to believe they could own the market in...auctions? personals? autos? Um, no that's not how it works.

I'm not going to go into another post about brand building online - I've written too many of those. But suffice it to say that this is one of main reason these new Google products fail. The Google brand stands as much for virtual 3D avatar worlds as Yahoo's brand stands for real estate.

One more thought on why these products are such slow starters. Other than SEO, word of mouth/ viral is a powerful way for web products to take off. At this point in their lives, Its really hard for companies like Google and Yahoo to tap into that. People don't buzz about the establishment. They buzz about the underdogs. In fact, any buzz the establishment generates is usually negative. People like to root against them. It's human nature. Negative viral doesn't help products.

As for Google meme tracker, the techmeme killer, I'd like to say something more about it specifically. But all I can muster is a yawn. I'm sure Gabe Rivera feels the same.


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Comments (1)

I think there is a buzz when Google launches something - except it peters out when what it launches is not a game changer. Gmail was a big leap over watever email solutions currently existed. So was Google Reader and Chrome. These products got noticed and adopted quickly. But other products like Knol etc are not anywhere close to being revolutionary.

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