Google Gets Another Free Press Pass

Remarkable. Google has apparently got an unlimited supply of free passes. Consider the giddy reaction to Google’s latest product announcements:

  • Google Co-op is a complicated, non-algorithmic search product that breaks my “remember that people are lazy” rule
  • Google Notebook is for a market, search clipping, that is cluttered with the bones of failed products
  • Google Desktop soaks up desktop space and CPU cycles while underwhelming
  • Google Trends is marginally more useful, but it’s fringe silliness, a less fun cross between Googlefight and Alexaholic

Being the empiricist that I am, I even reinstalled Google Desktop for the third time just to be sure that I haven’t missed something in this latest release. Nope. It is slow, space-consuming, unnecessary, and it messed up my screen, forcing me to do a resolution change post un-install to regain the right part of my desktop.

So, my question: Where did Google get all these free passes? Inquiring minds want to know.


  1. The only Google applications that are useful are Maps and Earth and some others. But the desktop search is definately annoying as you pointed out.

  2. Check with Apple. They have a good source too.

  3. Franklin Stubbs says:

    Interesting. From my view, google desktop is incredible and I’ve never had an issue with it. It’s literally changed the way I work, to the point that I would feel crippled without it. Gmail is of course amazing too.
    Those and now calendar are the only GOOG products I really use, besides search, but their impact is huge.
    Rather than measure Google by the ‘gee whiz’ nature of their stuff, maybe it makes more sense to measure how far they have raised the productivity bar for the average user. I’m not really an average user, but for me personally they have certainly raised it a lot.
    I wonder if high tech types subconsciously measure a product by how good it *could* be if such and such were fixed / modified etc, instead of considering how much better the product is in comparison to crappy preexisting alternatives. This would explain a lot of the perception difference between tech cognoscenti and the average joe.

  4. I agree – a rather underwhelming day – but I don’t know which press outlets are fawning over this current set of products.
    Since the products are seemingly minor and underwhelming, at the end of my post on the day, ( ) I rhetorically ask:
    “So I wonder if Kedrosky’s happy after all? They didn’t really announce anything major – is that good or bad?”

  5. You’re looking at it wrong – think of it as “Google Press Chow”
    Social networking it hot – Google Co-op
    Journalists like silly but fast statistics – Google Trends

  6. Installing Google desktop on my machine is one of the biggest computing mistakes I’ve made. It’s really annoying and I cannot uninstall it.
    The only new Google products in recent history I’ve actually liked for more than five minutes are Earth and Sketchup. What do these have in common?

  7. I share your pain, Paul. The first time I installed Google Desktop it resized my desktop and then got hung and continued to try and reload, resizing my desktop each time to the point where all my apps were about an inch wide and the full height of the screen. I had to reboot and change the resolution to fix it.
    As for Google Co-op (or, which I think is designed for chickens) it is one of the most mind-bogglingly complicated things I’ve ever come across, and that includes Google Base. I could barely make heads or tails of what they wanted me to do, and I’m pretty familiar with XML and stuff like that. Maybe hiring all those math geeks isn’t such a great idea after all.

  8. Google gets viral marketing. Every marketer on this planet will use Google Trends.

  9. Franklin Stubbs says:

    ??? I don’t get it. I’ve uninstalled and reinstalled Google Desktop a few different times (to re-index) with no issues whatsoever. It’s a right mouse click. Unless you are on a Mac?

  10. Franklin — Can you tell me more about how GDesktop has changed the way you work? I’d love to know, as when installed, even in the 4.0 incarnation, it still feels like a buzzy distraction to me, not like a productivity tool at all. Would love to know more from someone for whom it demonstrably works.

  11. Richard Hall says:

    Have you questioned Google on any of these issues you have with them? Would be interesting to hear their response.

  12. Anthony says:

    In regards to Gdesktop’s value. I can say for certain it helped me a ton when I was in college. I’d use it to quickly find information that was buried in PDF class slides. I never liked the sidebar and always left it turned off, but the shift+shift for quick access to gadgets is helpful as I no longer need to surf to a webpage to quick check my calendar, e-mail, and to-do list.. plus other stuff that is less important like stock quotes and weather.

  13. Bob James says:

    I agree with Franklin Stubbs that it has “literally changed the way I work”. I am in the publishing business and have constant need to find .tif files and information I used in the past but it could span a number of years and many different projects. I probably have 5000 .tif files on my system. In a split second I can find anywhere on my system (including external hard drives)that contains the picture/information.
    I have not used the sidebar feature as I didn’t want to lose that monitor space so use the floating desktop which takes up about 1/4″ X 2″. When I do a search it will show the different files and/or folders. If I have multiple pictures of the same person/object, I can open the search in a browser page and it will show me the different pictures so I can either go to the folder or double click it to open it in Photoshop. I may have a need that is substantially different from most people, but google desktop has probably increased my productivity more than any other app.

  14. i’m working in a small company and google desktop has changed a lot for us, too. we switch off the desktop-grabbing sidebar-stuff the minute we install, though…
    we’re a small company, where all documents are available on a network share (the users have reading rights to everything, changing right to their own/department stuff). after including this network share in google desktop, there’s no more searching/asking other for documents any more. no double done work on documents. saves several hours a week…

  15. another google product that now is deeply entrenched in our company is picasa. we have gigabytes of photos (guarantee documentation etc) to manage, search and email. before picasa, it was ridiculous work. now, we have everything on a network raid5, the workers have quick access (tags, search) and easy emailing of pics. don’t know how google makes money with picasa though… i’d gladly pay them money for it, but as you know, they won’t take it.

  16. Franklin Stubbs says:

    Re how google desktop has changed the way I work: As part of my work, I absorb mass quantities of information on an almost daily basis–articles, news stories, reports, research, commentary, etc.
    As with most things, the informational value of all this content is 80/20 or even 90/10, so most of what I come across is quickly skimmed and saved for further perusal later. Oftentimes I will make use of something that I saved two or three months ago, but didn’t become valuable / actionable until just recently. At other times, a thread of understanding will develop when disparate pieces of information are later put together. Being able to save and search effectively, with no limits on time or location, enables me to coordinate information more effectively… like having a super-charged memory.
    Rather than sort everything into folders to determine what is what and where to look for what, I apply customized keywords to most all the informational content I save. Then when I do a customized desktop search for that particular customized keyword later, everything I’ve saved under the keyword pops right up.
    The customized keyword thing is similar in concept to gmail labels, a sort of homemade search hack if you will. It allows me to slice and dice large volumes of content with minimal effort, and to view customized cross-sections of content in different ways. Google desktop makes this possible–and with foldershare synchronization, my information database can go anywhere my laptop does.

  17. Franklin Stubbs says:

    p.s. I don’t use the sidebar either… just control control to pop up the desktop window, or control K in firefox.
    Coincidentally, firefox has really improved the process too… when I do my daily download of information, for example, I typically just click ‘open in tabs’ for one or two Firefox folders that bring up dozens of site tabs at once. Then I just go through, closing ’em one by one.
    If you have firefox and you read the Wall Street journal, try it: bookmark all the WSJ pages you normally visit as individual locations in a firefox links folder, then click ‘open in tabs’ to bring them all up. Read and click ctrl-W to close as you go. Chances are you won’t go back to the old way.
    Over the long run, the increased productivity factor for heavy information users has to be something crazy.

  18. I think your commentary is a bit harsh considering what google offers compared to products/services offered by competitors. It is easier to criticize than to offer solutions…