Kate Williams ponders the world of social media, and today rifles through the week’s social stories.
Unconfirmed, but by no means ludicrous, reports have emerged that Microsoft had sold a paltry 503 of their Kin phones, before pulling the plug just six weeks after its launch.
I am, you may already have twigged, accustomed both to Promethean levels of over-reach, and to all forms of crushing failure – but even to my ears, 503 sounds risible. Search the varnish stockpiles of the world and you won’t find a product strong enough to put a gloss on that little number.
An anonymous member of the core development team – who’d migrated from original developer Danger when that company was acquired by Microsoft, expressed his frustration thus:
“We were working in such a screwed up place. Yes, we took long lunches and we sat in conference rooms and went on coffee breaks and the conversations always went something like this… “Did you hear that IM was cut, YouTube was cut? The App store was cut?” “Can you believe how mismanaged this place is?” “Why is this place to dysfunctional?”
Another insider neatly encapsulated Microsoft’s mammoth product development fail:
“No one thought it was a great product to launch anyway to begin with… It’s one thing to incubate products and bring them to a proof-of-concept to see what works, but it’s something else to launch.”
Which business model car-crash might perhaps give Google pause for thought, because frankly I’m watching these Google Me developments from behind my hands. It’s beginning to feel eerily like an episode of the Simpsons: the one where Homer tries to build a social network.
Dodgeball. Doh! Orkut. Doh! Jaiku, Buzz, Wave.. Doh! Doh! Doh!
Let’s hope they’ve got Lisa in charge this time, because it’s increasingly clear that there’s only so long that search will remain the go-to place for recommendations: put simply, people trust their friends.
Indeed, a slideshow by one of their own researchers spells out – with additional semaphore for the hard-of-understanding – that Google needs to get with the social programme pronto, or risk a slow and painful death by irrelevance. But please, Google, look to the past – then scramble for the future.