Is Google Spock?

Thoughtful post by Nick Carr (via i-boy) on the Spock-ness of Google:

Google is so well known for doing one thing that when they try to branch out and play other roles, people continue to see them as the old character. Sure, when Google does something like GMail or Maps, people understand why – much the same way I understood why Nimoy would do [the TV series] In Search Of. However, it was really hard not to see Nimoy as Spock when he played Paris in Mission Impossible. The same can be said of Google: If it doesn’t involve search, then why should consumers choose Google? In this respect, Yahoo! has the edge. Yahoo! is a portal. That’s what it is by nature, and that’s what consumers expect.

Good point. Managing consumer expectation can be difficult, and the further a company moves from their core-competencies, the more difficult managing the brand becomes.

Makes you wonder what to think of MSN? When you hear MSN, do you think of search, or chat? How about MSN Live? Is this picture even more confused than the picture presented by Google, who at least repeat the mantra “we’re a search company” at every conceivable opportunity.

Is it any wonder that MSN Search hasn’t really proved to be much of a competitor of late?

“According to ComScore data for April, Google increased its share of the search market to 49% from 36.3% last year while its rivals -Yahoo! and Microsoft reported a decline. The share of Yahoo!’s search market share fell to 22.5% from 31.1%, while MSN’s share dropped to 10.9% from 16.3%.”

I guess if you want to be noticed these days, you have to shout loud and clear about (exactly) what it is that you do. Being big, vague and generalist doesn’t wash.

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