Showing Off “The Innovation Machine” At Google
Google is almost uniquely situated among tech companies in that it can reveal very little about an event or announcement and be all but guaranteed that most of the journalists and bloggers on the tech beat in Northern California will show up to cover it. That’s what happened today. Google brought bloggers and journalists into its San Francisco offices, on a beautiful 80+ degree day, to hear about ongoing innovation at Google Labs, together with a couple of related announcements. The two announcements were covered earlier by Chris Sherman and Matt McGee:
The similar image search and News Timeline were both interesting. Of the two, however, News Timeline was more impressive to me. A third announcement was the redesign of Google Labs itself:
The general idea here is to make Labs (and its engineers) more accessible and to encourage greater participation and feedback. Google Director of Product Management RJ Pittman (the former co-founder and CEO of Groxis) acted as a kind of MC for the event. He said the Labs redesign was intended to provide more direct communication between engineers and end users (early adopters). He added that the new Labs would feature a “rapidly expanding carousel of innovation” and would explose more people to things earlier in the cycle.
Indeed, “innovation” was the theme of the day, which seemed intended to show those who cover Google that innovation was still very much happening in Mountain View. Pittman stressed that innovation at Google was even more important today than in the past. “Scarcity breeds clarity,” he offered.
Pittman’s comments about innovation despite scarcity struck me as similar to remarks made by Google CEO Eric Schmidt and CFO Patrick Pichette on Google’s earnings call last week. Both stressed that despite cutbacks and the recession Google was continuing to “fully fund” strategic and growth initiatives.
After it was over one of the journalists asked me whether the announcements were significant enough to justify a get together like this. It’s true that none of the announcements individually were major. But the organizers obviously felt that there would a greater impact in bundling them under the umbrella concept of “innovation” — to show them that despite cutbacks it’s still alive and well at Google.