Why Doesn't Google Innovate?

May 29, 2007 Michael Wurzer

This is another take on the question posed a few weeks ago about why MLSs don’t innovate. In this case, let’s take on Google. What? I can’t be serious, right? Google, a lack of innovation? Well, yes, I am serious. Case in point: Why doesn’t Google Reader support authenticated feeds? This should be a trivial task, right? I love Reader but it frustrates me that it doesn’t handle the authenticated feed from our private intranet. Worse, Google’s own Gmail application throws off a feed that can’t be read by Google Reader. Hmmm.

Clearly, the problem is greater than at first appears. Even Google is subject to the complexities of disparate applications not working well together. Different teams have developed Gmail and Reader. This same disparity is evident between Gmail and Google Dashboard, as the two just don’t play well together. Undoubtedly, there are a myriad reasons why Google hasn’t implemented authentication into Reader yet and why Gmail and Reader and Dashboard don’t work well together yet, but they boil down to this: When Gmail was written, no one had thought about Reader or Dashboard yet. So, decisions were made back then that make integrating them difficult today. This will only get more and more difficult as Google’s applications mature and as they buy more products from other companies. The bigger you get and the more products you have, the more difficult it is to make things work together easily and one more reason software is hard.