Today Google offers more than 40 products in 8 categories. In my attempt to become a savvy digital marketer I tried to get acquainted with most of them. I grouped the products in three categories:
1. Product Extensions: all those products that are naturally born from a search engine. That is, specialized search products that help you find what you are really looking for (e.g. images, videos, news, products, places, blogs, discussions, recipes, patents). A second level of product extension includes products that use all the data gathered by a search engine like Google trends (search trends) and iGoogle (customize your own homepage).
This is the realm of a search engine, but I guess their need for innovation led them to design products in totally new areas.
2. Products in whatever area you can think of: all those products that I have no idea why they are with Google. It reminds me of the industrial conglomerates that tried to get into every industry they thought might have some synergies with their existing business. Those are products like photo editing Picnik and Picasa (yes two), Google Maps, Google Earth, Google Translate, Knol, Google Reader, Blogger, and Google sites, among many others.
Some of these products have failed and are being discontinued like Google Buzz, Google Wave, Google health (trying to pioneer the digitalization and centralization of medical records), and Google PowerMeter (trying to ride the green wave too).
To keep up with any trend they did not start, Google designs products trying to improve on the category leaders.
3. Google “me too” products: from a user’s perspective it seems Google’s first “me too” product was Gmail, following the then leader hotmail (followed by a whole suit of functionality products like Google docs, calendar, Google talk, Google groups). Other “me too” products include Google Checkout following Paypal, Google Offers following Groupon, Google Finance following Yahoo Finance, Orkut in an attempt to get into social networks, and most recently Google+ following Facebook.
It is too soon to tell what will be the fate of Google’s newest product. So far, some bloggers like it and some say it is very similar to Facebook. The news also generated comment from the investment community. A. Hartung from Forbes thinks it is not a good idea to engage in battle with Facebook that is already too far to reach, and that it would have been a better idea to stick to Google Health and Google PowerMeter
For us, the users, competition is always good news. Google just announced Google Takeout, which allows you to take all your data with you when you leave a Google product, this is definitely a plus amidst worries of privacy around Facebook.