Google has run out of ideas: Sells old products under a different name

It is that time of the year again. The span of two months where some of the biggest events in the technology industry take place. Developers gather at Google I/O and WWDC, and gaming enthusiasts gather at E3.

Every year, Google has something new to show to its attendees. No, we are not talking about the Rube Goldberg contraption that was present a few years ago. We are talking about the actual products that Google shows at its conference.

Google announced a whole array of new features and products this year too, and they seem like amazing concepts on the surface. But when you dig deeper, you find that these products are just old wine in a new bottle.  Rehashed concepts.

Take Google Assistant, for example. It is a voice-driven assistant that assists you in finding stuff. Basically an intelligent voice-driven search engine that brings the data you want to the surface. Sound familiar? Google Now, anyone? Google Assistant is similar to Google Now in almost all aspects except one: It is a bit more conversational. There’s increased understanding about references to previous queries. This existed in Google Now too, but Google Assistant has apparently improved upon it.

For instance, if you say “Avengers timings”, it would show you a list of theater locations and timings. If you say something like: “The kids will be coming this time:, then Assistant will understand that you are bringing your kids. And then it would offer to book the tickets right then and there, seamlessly. Whilst it seems great as a concept, it is just a rehashed version of Google Now. It is nothing that can’t be added to Now, but Google just went ahead and added one two features and is selling it as a new product.

Then comes Allo, Google’s Messaging app. Its selling point is that it automatically recognizes the conversations you are having and surfaces relevant information. If you are talking about a movie, it surfaces information about that movie. If you are talking about restaurants, it would show information about nearby restaurants. This is exactly the same as Now on Tap, which pretty much does the same thing.

Spotting a trend? Google is leveraging its existing portfolio of products, integrating them into existing products and selling them as new products.

That was one major takeaway from I/O 2016. But it isn’t necessarily bad, or even a complaint against Google. After all, this means that Google’s products have matured enough that they don’t need major feature upgrades. They are almost complete. And it is not like Google has nothing new to show. It did announce some major updates for Android Wear, and its Daydream platform is a big step forward compared to Cardboard.  And instant Apps are a unique idea: With this, you can have access to part of an app without downloading it. You just get the essential parts.

All in all, Google seems to be moving away from big feature-packed updates to a more slow cycle as far as its main products are concerned. But as for its moonshot experiments, it still is involved and is taking active steps into many domains. Google as a company is still experimenting, but the pillars that form Google has matured enough that there isn’t much to add.

What do you think?

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