Posts Tagged ‘google’

A tale of two cultures…

Wednesday, January 23rd, 2013

I read two interesting and contrasting articles today talking about two corporate giants, Microsoft & Google.  They both have very strong cultures and it is interesting to examine the impact of them.  I’m not pretending this is an in-depth analysis, just an interesting raising of the corporate veil to give a glimpse at what lies behind.

Here is an article which talks about the leadership style of Steve Ballmer and their use of their R&D.  Former Windows sales senior VP Joachim Kempin says in an interview that Ballmer apparently sees up-and-coming talent as a threat rather than a resource, and seeks to protect his position rather than nurture the opportunity it might represent.  He also talks about how the highly innovative Microsoft R&D department fails to exploit its intellectual wares because of fear of getting it wrong.  They apparently had a working tablet years ago, but let Apple make a fortune from that market.  The more senior you are there, the more attention you have to spend on corporate politics and arse-covering.

By contrast I read about Google, who are constantly trying new things, many of which they pull the plug on, but some are game changing such as their Android mobile system.  They didn’t seek to control this and keep it close; they made it open source and threw it to the four winds.  It is arguably the most important mobile platform today and has huge support in the influential and growing Far East markets. 

They are a data-crunching business and apparently they monitor their internal data with equal interest.  Their HR department, known as People Operations, noticed that they were losing more female staff than male ones and set out to find out why.  It was to do with their maternity leave policies.  They changed them, on-the-fly, and allowed new mothers five months leave with full pay to be used as required.  This stopped the leaking of female talent from the business. 

I’m sure there is much more that can be written about both cultures but the attitudes and fears for the those at the top has a huge impact on the rest of the business.  If the boss does it, then you can bet your bippy that others will do so too.  People talk a lot about leadership and it is usually talked about as a positive thing, it also casts a long shadow and can distort behaviour in very costly ways.  Be sure you look behind you to see what is growing in your shadow

Every Dog has it’s Day

Monday, January 14th, 2013

It appears that Apple’s time as the unchallenged ‘cock of the walk’ is over.  They became the most valuable company ever with a value of $622 billion last year.  People queued for days to pay premium prices for their every new offering, it was a gold mine!  However, although the iPhone 5 still sold well and was acknowledged as “The best iPhone ever”, it was not met with unalloyed praise.  It was felt that they had launched a very safe, conservative phone.  The success of other companies with 7” tablets forced them to go back on Steven Jobs decision never to make one “7-inch tablets are tweeners: too big to compete with a smartphone and too small to compete with the iPad. ….7-Inch tablets are dead on arrival.” [Steve Jobs]  And when they brought the iPad mini to market, although once again it was a product which sold well, critics again criticized them for the low resolution of the screen and it is believed they have a new, more competitive version coming out in the Spring. 

In 2013 Samsung & Google with its Android offerings stole some of Apple’s success.  Samsung sold 30 million of its S3 Galaxy.  Android activations back in July were 1.2 million per day, with 3.7 million over Christmas alone, it is expected that they will reach a billion soon.  It has 80% of the important Chinese market. 

It seems to me no matter how good you are you will hit a phase when others catch-up  and set the pace.  What you do then is very important.  Do you copy them, or hold true to your previous ideas?  Knowing what to change and when to do it is the true mark of business genius.  I can’t offer a golden rule but will say that if you aren’t continually re-evaluating your path and practices then you will be less successful.  Challenge your assumptions, ask daft questions, ask “Why not?” rather than “Why?”  You also know what makes you different and special and if you don’t then perhaps the answer is “Nothing”.  In which case, then you need to decide if you live with this and the risk it represents or if you can create a niche for yourself.

Apple and Google: the result of their patent wars

Saturday, October 20th, 2012

The net impact of Apple and Google taking each other on in the courts has not seemed to affect the public and their buying decisions.  Android phones are being activated at a rate of 1.3m per day!  The Samsung S3 outsold the iPhone 4s in the US in August, though admittedly this was just before the iPhone 5 was due to launch, but it is still the best selling phone on T-Mobile in the US.  It has however made a lot of lawyers very rich. In fact these two companies have spent more on law suits than R&D.  It makes me wonder just what improvements in their products and services we might all have been enjoying if they had decided to invest in them rather than in this legal battle. 

Many years ago I was involved in a top level bench marking mission to top Japanese corporations.  One of our executives asked why they were willing to share their ‘secrets’ with us and they replied “By the time you have succeeded in copying us, we will have moved on..”  In a fast moving world, it seems to me that focusing on the thing which drives you forward is a better bet than looking over your shoulder.  It is interesting that Apple introduced a chip into their new ‘lightening’ cable (the one that connects the new iPhone and iPod to your PC) to ‘authenticate’ it as a genuine Apple accessory.  Within mere months of its introduction the reverse engineers have discovered that it is a relatively simple chip, in fact far simpler than those used in print cartridges, and it is likely to be easily bypassed.  The thing that no one has succeeded in copying Apple in, is its style and joined-up offerings, that make the vast majority of its users feel secure, looked after and chic.

The irony is that they have quite different strategies.  Apple want to create a safe ‘walled garden’ within which they control everything and make sure it works.  Google are interested in the whole net experience and seek enable technologies that will extend and enhance that experience, such as mobile phones, tablets & programs that draw you into engaging more with them such as Google maps.

So what are the lessons for the average business?  I think they are:-

  1. Be clear on what are really good at
  2. Be clear on your strategy
  3. Understand why your customers choose you
  4. Focus on the things that drive you forward
  5. Don’t forget that it is often the quality of the relationships you have that are your key differentiator.  In real life, most of us do not have such distinctive offerings as Apple or Google, and people do business with people they like and those who help them to be successful



  1. Gizmodo
  2. BGR