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Starting to hate Google...


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#21 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 10:22 AM

Remember when Dell had the 'best customer service in the world' (but it took an hour to speak to a human)?


Actually we are taking a trip into wayyyyyy off topic land, but actually yes, I do remember when Dell had the best customer support in the world, and they really did. About 6 or 7 years ago you really couldn't touch Dell tech support, it was almost a thing of beauty. Person on the phone in seconds, zero hesitation for RMA's or on-site repair. The place I worked with actually switched their primary contract from IBM to Dell at the time because Dell had such amazing support and I say this without an ounce of hyperbole.

That said, with my current dealings with Dell, that is so very much not the truth anymore. Their service is just as shitty as everyone else now.

Sponsor:

#22 swiftcoder   Senior Moderators   -  Reputation: 9843

Posted 02 November 2011 - 11:09 AM

Actually we are taking a trip into wayyyyyy off topic land, but actually yes, I do remember when Dell had the best customer support in the world, and they really did. About 6 or 7 years ago you really couldn't touch Dell tech support, it was almost a thing of beauty. Person on the phone in seconds, zero hesitation for RMA's or on-site repair. The place I worked with actually switched their primary contract from IBM to Dell at the time because Dell had such amazing support and I say this without an ounce of hyperbole.

You're talking about their corporate support? We still use that at work, and honestly doesn't seem all that bad to this day. The hype I was referring to surrounded their personal support, and that was abysmal even then. We spent 5 weeks RMA'ing the same laptop 3 times, and while that was one of the worst, it wasn't an isolated incident. You could spend upwards of an hour on hold, be cut off randomly when they didn't want to help you...

It's why we switched fully to Apple in the mid-2000's - at the time, AppleCare was incredible (though it's not so much anymore, I fear).

Tristam MacDonald - Software Engineer @Amazon - [swiftcoding]


#23 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 11:43 AM


Actually we are taking a trip into wayyyyyy off topic land, but actually yes, I do remember when Dell had the best customer support in the world, and they really did. About 6 or 7 years ago you really couldn't touch Dell tech support, it was almost a thing of beauty. Person on the phone in seconds, zero hesitation for RMA's or on-site repair. The place I worked with actually switched their primary contract from IBM to Dell at the time because Dell had such amazing support and I say this without an ounce of hyperbole.

You're talking about their corporate support? We still use that at work, and honestly doesn't seem all that bad to this day. The hype I was referring to surrounded their personal support, and that was abysmal even then. We spent 5 weeks RMA'ing the same laptop 3 times, and while that was one of the worst, it wasn't an isolated incident. You could spend upwards of an hour on hold, be cut off randomly when they didn't want to help you...

It's why we switched fully to Apple in the mid-2000's - at the time, AppleCare was incredible (though it's not so much anymore, I fear).


True, I was talking corporate support. Generally that's who I deal with most of the time.

That said, for customer support I recently learned a trick and it very much works with Dell. When I was having trouble with my Dell (order, not even a product yet! ) I got stuck in phone support hell. It was about a month before Christmas, which was a seriously bad time to need to use support, but I kept getting shuffled off to some call center in India where they were quite obviously running through a script and incapable of deviating from that script. It was a head smashingly annoying time, hour long times of being put on hold, then to talk to someone who obviously couldn't help me, who instead of escalating, would simply drop the call. God I was mad.


Then a friend let me in on a trick... a trick that works especially well in Canada, but should still work in the States. When prompted for your language, pick the least popular one, never pick English. So in my case I chose French, this gets you routed to a special call center with bilingual support staff, who are genuinely better trained, paid and speak perfectly functional English. You simply put are not going to be working in a English companies call center if you aren't fluent in English. Within 4 minutes my problem was solved.

Since this Dell experience, I have pulled the same move on a number of other companies and wait times are always a literal fraction and the person on the other end often speaks good english, often better than you get from mainline call centers.

Try it out next time, it works a charm.

#24 BeanDog   Members   -  Reputation: 1063

Posted 02 November 2011 - 11:55 AM

Try it out next time, it works a charm.

I've always had stellar, fast, and helpful support for a personal laptop through Dell's live chat online. Their phone support is completely unusable, but with the online chat I get someone quickly, and they've never had a problem sending me replacement parts right away.

~BenDilts( void );

Lucidchart: Online Flow Chart Software; Lucidpress: Digital Publishing Software


#25 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 12:02 PM


Try it out next time, it works a charm.

I've always had stellar, fast, and helpful support for a personal laptop through Dell's live chat online. Their phone support is completely unusable, but with the online chat I get someone quickly, and they've never had a problem sending me replacement parts right away.


Then I am assuming you are an American? For non-US customers, the web support is much less capable.


/// Hey, im threadjacking my own thread here!

#26 valderman   Members   -  Reputation: 512

Posted 02 November 2011 - 12:17 PM

I was referring to the common implementation of web workers which under the definition of no shared mutable state usually requires the data be duplicated so that it isn't changed on the original thread while the new thread works with it. The alternative is to use a lock statement and lock the resource while it's being used so only one thread may work with it at a time without any overhead. It's usually much more flexible and has higher performance when working with large data sets.

"Higher performance" doesn't belong in the same sentence as "locks" and "shared state" if we're talking parallellism.

In regard to passing references in a message to a thread I'm not sure what your question is. I never said they're mutually exclusive. How did you imagine working with a reference in a concurrent thread? Say you don't have locks and you just access it then it's no different than what I described as a more flexible system to allow.

You seem to imply that if threads can have no shared mutable state, then data needs to be copied somewhere to avoid it being modified, that having a reference to a piece of data confers the ability to modify it. I'm trying to figure out if that's actually the case, or if I've misunderstood your point.

That's an extremely naive view of parallel processing. When used correctly the speedup is rather impressive especially on dual and quad-core systems. Using it only as an abstraction is kind of missing the big picture especially when those threads are mapped to kernel threads like in most languages.

Concurrency doesn't imply parallellism, just as parallellism doesn't necessarily imply concurrency.

#27 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14885

Posted 02 November 2011 - 12:36 PM

I am not talking at all about end user products like GMail, Android or any other Google product.

I am talking about their developer products, the horrendous lack of support and the shoddy state they are shipped in. I don't talk about IBM, because frankly their developer support is absolutely stellar. Actually in my brief exposure to Yahoo's developer support it was incredibly good too, although I only worked with their UI toolkit and BOSS search engine technology, but both were exceedingly well documented and packaged in a way that made it extremely easy to get up an running. I have dealt with Amazon as a developer, working with their S3 and EC2 technologies and though the experience wasn't amazing ( it has improved ), it was vastly superior to any time I have dealt with Google products. It at least had timely, thorough and accurate documentation, which is the baseline of what I expect.


I use Google as my primary search engine, I am typing this in Chrome, my phone is an Xperia X10 ( not that I am happy about it over all ) and I own a Asus Transformer. I have no particular hate over Google products, but their developer support is absolutely and overwhelmingly shit.


Ah, youth :-)


I'm going to do my best not to turn this into a "kids these days" rant, but... damn.

I'll be blunt here. I remember a time - not all that long ago, on a cosmic scale - when Microsoft was known for subpar development tools. Yes, you read that right. Ever used Microsoft C/C++? It was horrid. Everyone with sense used Borland or Watcom. That's how you got real work done. Ever used Visual C++ 1.52? It was awful. Visual C++ 4.0 wasn't much better. Visual Studio 97 (aka the 5.0 release) was vaguely decent. 6.0 was when the Microsoft developer product line really hit its stride, and Visual Studio has been a dominant player in IDEs ever since.

You know what the irony is here? Visual Studio 6.0 was released in 1998. Microsoft was founded in 1975. It took them twenty three years to reach a point where their development tools were market-dominant, and that's from a company that was - quite literally - founded as a development tools company. Look up their history; programming systems have been Microsoft's bread and butter since day one, and they have retained their market leadership solely through understanding that capturing the loyalty of programmers is the route to success in computer applications.

It took Microsoft 23 years to start producing good development tools, and that's their core competency.


Now, let's look back at Google for a minute. They have never been, and never will be, a development tools company. They are a focused advertising company who happened to land on the map by being good at web search, and they have been attempting to diversify and expand - as is natural for a large company - ever since. Their intent is to maximize their potential for delivering targeted advertisements. Getting developers to use their platforms is a secondary goal; it's a way to expand the market for their advertising revenue. Seriously - look at the products they ship and how they monetize them.

A tertiary plan for Google is to encourage brand development and recognition by embracing certain communities; witness Google Code, the Google AI Challenge, et. al. This is a simple ploy to get people to attach notions of developer benevolence with the Google brand. But at no time is their intent to be a development tools company; they are an advertising company who recognizes the need to build a strong brand.

Google was incorporated in 1998. The same year, coincidentally, as Visual Studio 6.0 was released. They've had 13 years to get good at their business. And guess what? They've done it! They've been remarkably good at search and focused advertising, so much so that the very concept of searching is now intimately associated with their brand name.


So the comparison between, say, Microsoft's developer experience and Google's is, frankly, hardly fair. Now, let's consider (briefly) the other players mentioned: Yahoo, Amazon, hell, IBM.

Yahoo has known for years that it failed at being the dominant web search platform, so they diversified into general internet technology platforms. They've had a decade of playing second fiddle to Google to learn how to do this. Ditto for Amazon; Bezos realized ages ago that book sales was a dead end and that Amazon needed to become a platforms company. They've also had plenty of time to get it right, and it is their core focus now.

IBM has managed to survive as a development tools provider through sheer inertia, and because they have enough smart people who realize the importance of nurturing a developer community. Think of it as a microcosm of Microsoft sensibility surviving within the political morass of IBM as a whole.

We can do this for pretty much any other tech company under the sun ;-)


The bottom line for me is that expectations are just not reasonable. Google is not a developer tools company; never has been, never will be. They're not even a platforms company. They're also relatively young for a large business, and still going through a lot of growing pains and identity issues. This is totally normal. Again, I cite the recent cutbacks in product lines; they know they're over-committed, and they're pulling back.


All the specific complaints in the OP are easy enough to resolve with a simple explanation: since Google is not a developer tools company, they are specifically not designing tools for mass consumption. They're designing stuff for themselves, and/or stuff they think is cool, and coincidentally sharing that stuff with the outside world. If you approach them as a development tools company, of course you're going to be disappointed; of course it feels like they didn't design this stuff to work with your particular use case.

Because they didn't.

And they didn't intend to, because that's not their business.



[edit] Oh, if you want to talk about companies who actually do have truly shit developer support, PM me. I have some horror stories that'll make you kiss the sweet ground that Google's devkits walk on ;-)

#28 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 12:57 PM


I am not talking at all about end user products like GMail, Android or any other Google product.

I am talking about their developer products, the horrendous lack of support and the shoddy state they are shipped in. I don't talk about IBM, because frankly their developer support is absolutely stellar. Actually in my brief exposure to Yahoo's developer support it was incredibly good too, although I only worked with their UI toolkit and BOSS search engine technology, but both were exceedingly well documented and packaged in a way that made it extremely easy to get up an running. I have dealt with Amazon as a developer, working with their S3 and EC2 technologies and though the experience wasn't amazing ( it has improved ), it was vastly superior to any time I have dealt with Google products. It at least had timely, thorough and accurate documentation, which is the baseline of what I expect.


I use Google as my primary search engine, I am typing this in Chrome, my phone is an Xperia X10 ( not that I am happy about it over all ) and I own a Asus Transformer. I have no particular hate over Google products, but their developer support is absolutely and overwhelmingly shit.


Ah, youth :-)


I'm going to do my best not to turn this into a "kids these days" rant, but... damn.

I'll be blunt here. I remember a time - not all that long ago, on a cosmic scale - when Microsoft was known for subpar development tools. Yes, you read that right. Ever used Microsoft C/C++? It was horrid. Everyone with sense used Borland or Watcom. That's how you got real work done. Ever used Visual C++ 1.52? It was awful. Visual C++ 4.0 wasn't much better. Visual Studio 97 (aka the 5.0 release) was vaguely decent. 6.0 was when the Microsoft developer product line really hit its stride, and Visual Studio has been a dominant player in IDEs ever since.

You know what the irony is here? Visual Studio 6.0 was released in 1998. Microsoft was founded in 1975. It took them twenty three years to reach a point where their development tools were market-dominant, and that's from a company that was - quite literally - founded as a development tools company. Look up their history; programming systems have been Microsoft's bread and butter since day one, and they have retained their market leadership solely through understanding that capturing the loyalty of programmers is the route to success in computer applications.

It took Microsoft 23 years to start producing good development tools, and that's their core competency.


Now, let's look back at Google for a minute. They have never been, and never will be, a development tools company. They are a focused advertising company who happened to land on the map by being good at web search, and they have been attempting to diversify and expand - as is natural for a large company - ever since. Their intent is to maximize their potential for delivering targeted advertisements. Getting developers to use their platforms is a secondary goal; it's a way to expand the market for their advertising revenue. Seriously - look at the products they ship and how they monetize them.

A tertiary plan for Google is to encourage brand development and recognition by embracing certain communities; witness Google Code, the Google AI Challenge, et. al. This is a simple ploy to get people to attach notions of developer benevolence with the Google brand. But at no time is their intent to be a development tools company; they are an advertising company who recognizes the need to build a strong brand.

Google was incorporated in 1998. The same year, coincidentally, as Visual Studio 6.0 was released. They've had 13 years to get good at their business. And guess what? They've done it! They've been remarkably good at search and focused advertising, so much so that the very concept of searching is now intimately associated with their brand name.


So the comparison between, say, Microsoft's developer experience and Google's is, frankly, hardly fair. Now, let's consider (briefly) the other players mentioned: Yahoo, Amazon, hell, IBM.

Yahoo has known for years that it failed at being the dominant web search platform, so they diversified into general internet technology platforms. They've had a decade of playing second fiddle to Google to learn how to do this. Ditto for Amazon; Bezos realized ages ago that book sales was a dead end and that Amazon needed to become a platforms company. They've also had plenty of time to get it right, and it is their core focus now.

IBM has managed to survive as a development tools provider through sheer inertia, and because they have enough smart people who realize the importance of nurturing a developer community. Think of it as a microcosm of Microsoft sensibility surviving within the political morass of IBM as a whole.

We can do this for pretty much any other tech company under the sun ;-)


The bottom line for me is that expectations are just not reasonable. Google is not a developer tools company; never has been, never will be. They're not even a platforms company. They're also relatively young for a large business, and still going through a lot of growing pains and identity issues. This is totally normal. Again, I cite the recent cutbacks in product lines; they know they're over-committed, and they're pulling back.


All the specific complaints in the OP are easy enough to resolve with a simple explanation: since Google is not a developer tools company, they are specifically not designing tools for mass consumption. They're designing stuff for themselves, and/or stuff they think is cool, and coincidentally sharing that stuff with the outside world. If you approach them as a development tools company, of course you're going to be disappointed; of course it feels like they didn't design this stuff to work with your particular use case.

Because they didn't.

And they didn't intend to, because that's not their business.



[edit] Oh, if you want to talk about companies who actually do have truly shit developer support, PM me. I have some horror stories that'll make you kiss the sweet ground that Google's devkits walk on ;-)


I'm not a kid; my first C IDE was Quick C 2.5, in college we used Borland C++ 4.0. I wouldn't be surprised to find out I was your elder, I have a feeling I'm among the senior crowd here. If you could stuff the dismissive tone, I would greatly appreciate it. I remember the days of shitty tools. I know how far the world has come.


The world has advanced, but Google is still deploying products with the equivalent of make files and home grown shell scripts with a readme file for documentation. It is exactly this passage of time, and going through my career watching development tools, documentation and all around general support improve that makes me disdain Google.


At the time Microsoft was releasing shitty development tools EVERYONE was releasing shitty development tools! The Turbo line from Borland and to a lesser degree the Watcom lines were a beacon in a field of utter crap. That said, in it's day Microsoft Quick C was quite capable and user friendly, easily the peer of Turbo C ++. It was in the Microsoft C 6/ Visual C++ move that their products really took a turn downward. Fortunately, everyone simply switched over to Borland until they got their act together.



It wasn't a matter that Microsoft took 23 years to get the product right, although no doubt their experience no doubt helps them. It's because the general quality of developer tools, and software in general, has increased exponentially.






They are a focused advertising company who happened to land on the map by being good at web search



You got that part very wrong. They are a search company, that happened to buy an advertising company that ended up growing into their primary revenue stream. That said, that is still a cop-out.

If Microsoft released a complete shit copy of Office people aren't going to say " Oh well, that's just because Microsoft is a development tools company". When Vista fell on it's face, it wasn't because Microsoft wasn't an Operating System company.

Companies have multiple facets, they all do at that scale. The fact that Google often sucks at expanding beyond their initial core, doesn't dismiss their culpability when they release crap.

#29 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14885

Posted 02 November 2011 - 01:16 PM

Chill, man... I made an extrapolation from your post, which turned out to be wrong. No need to get snippy :-)

I'm not trying to be dismissive, I'm trying to disagree with you. There's a difference. I find your perspective illogical, and no doubt you share the same opinion of mine; fair enough.

My core argument isn't that Google has great development tools. My core argument is that you shouldn't be expecting them to have good development tools. Would you be shocked, offended, and irate if you bought a lawn mower from Starbucks and it turned out to suck?

#30 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 01:26 PM

If Starbucks got in to the lawnmower business I sure as hell would. By your logic everyone that owns a Google phone, or bought a Microsoft Mouse should expect a subpar product because that is not their core competency.

#31 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14885

Posted 02 November 2011 - 01:38 PM

It's not about core competency, it's about purpose. Google's purpose in shipping a phone was to ship a good phone; Microsoft's purpose in shipping mice was (originally) to promote adoption of their software. Both goals were accomplished.

Google's purpose in releasing development tools is not to release good development tools, it's to build brand recognition and appreciation. They look like the good guys for having "open" software, while the truth of the matter is that they are not at all interested in creating a rich development ecosystem. They just like the karma.

Any number of other tech companies do the same thing; Google is hardly alone in this. So I still contend that you're disappointed because your expectations are wrong.


If Starbucks made lawn mowers, I would have no reason to believe their product was quality. Maybe I'm just more cynical than you, but I frankly find it a bit unrealistic to expect everything to be solid gold just because some business puts their name on it.

#32 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 01:49 PM

Google's purpose in releasing development tools is not to release good development tools, it's to build brand recognition and appreciation. They look like the good guys for having "open" software, while the truth of the matter is that they are not at all interested in creating a rich development ecosystem. They just like the karma.



I can't disagree with this more. Google's purpose in releasing development tools is to promote people using their ecosystem, just like Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon, et all.

One of the biggest profit centers from smartphones is the licensing cut off applications especially if you don't make the hardware, it is in Googles best interest to make developers experience as good as possible or at least it should be. Even ignoring my hatred of Objective-C, I have to acknowledge that Apple and Microsoft are doing a vastly superior job to Google in the developer support category.

The same applies to App Engine and to a lesser degree PlayN and GWT, they develop an ecosystem so they make money off their cloud based offerings. The same is true with the various web APIs that they are attempting to monetize.

This is far beyond some BS goodwill open source projects and I am disappointed because I am interested in all of these areas and in everyone one of them, Google's offering sucks.


Look for example at cloud computing. Every single billion dollar company is exploring this space in some capacity, but Amazon, Microsoft, EMC/VMWare and Google are the front runners. I personally have little experience with VMWare's offerings, but I can tell you of the three, Google's are by far the least polished, least documented and hardest to deploy to. This is predicted as a multi-billion dollar segment going forward, so proper developer tools and support are key to adoption and Google is dropping that ball bigtime.

#33 Telastyn   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 3726

Posted 02 November 2011 - 02:18 PM

Google's purpose in releasing development tools is to promote people using their ecosystem, just like Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon, et all.


I maybe wouldn't go this far. A lot of google's stuff is done by developers because it's cool; not due to some strategic corporate goal. If anything, I expect Dart was (originally) made because JavaScript sucks and due to the relatively cutting edge things that Google uses JS for they run into the troubles more than most.

They release the tool so that they promote that "we're the company that makes cool things" vibe to developers (which should in turn promote ecosystems), but I don't really think that the primary motivation for many of these projects are the same as they would be elsewhere.

#34 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 02:38 PM


Google's purpose in releasing development tools is to promote people using their ecosystem, just like Microsoft, Oracle, Amazon, et all.


I maybe wouldn't go this far. A lot of google's stuff is done by developers because it's cool; not due to some strategic corporate goal. If anything, I expect Dart was (originally) made because JavaScript sucks and due to the relatively cutting edge things that Google uses JS for they run into the troubles more than most.

They release the tool so that they promote that "we're the company that makes cool things" vibe to developers (which should in turn promote ecosystems), but I don't really think that the primary motivation for many of these projects are the same as they would be elsewhere.


I think it all depends on the tools in question. Dart is an edge case, where I can see Google drawing a direct benefit from it but I can see it being a good will thing and a tool useful internally to Google themselves, that they are just happening to share with the public. I can see Dart being a lot like C# ( then Cool ) when it was initially released for public consumption ( although Cool/C# was much further along ).


However for their other developer technologies, the Android SDK, NDK, GWT, App Engine, Maps Api, Google Cloud Storage, etc... are not altruistic releases to foster developer good will, these technologies are fundamental to adoption of Google as a platform, and they are doing a piss poor job of it.




This is the next perceived battlefield, becoming the "platform" for the web. Previously it was about being the face of the web, the portal or destination if you will, but now it's all about being the technology behind the scenes and every large IT company are funneling billions of dollars into being the one. Amazon was one of the first out of the gate, but everybody else is a player in that field now. As Microsoft already learned, the key to being the winning platform is to have the developers. I

#35 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7112

Posted 02 November 2011 - 02:39 PM

This is just a hype bubble in the process of collapsing. People got ludicrously inflated images of Google's sophistication, engineering prowess, hiring standards, processes, you name it.

...

They're just another large tech company.


this++;

Google is basically just growing out of its roots as a 90s-style dot com in many ways. They're reaching a point where they need to get more organized and more mature about their offerings, and they're going to have some teething problems with that. They've come incredibly far on the back of basically letting engineers do what engineers do, and they should never abandon that culture entirely, but at some point the scraggly college student has to cut his hair, trim that beard, and take on a more business-friendly face in order to get by (please note, this is reality for businesses as a whole, though I disagree that it should be a "reality" for individuals).

Someone else said that Google could no longer hide behind the "Beta" tag, and they're entirely correct. At some point you need to step up to the plate, solidify your APIs, stick to a reasonable schedule and roadmap, and provide support. Businesses and individuals that make use of such offerings thrive on stability, and certainty -- You can't build your business on a buggy, unsupported API that might be revoked (or who's licensing terms may change) at any time.

At some point every company has to slow down, take stock of where its done well, and hunker down there -- the entire company can't go on charging blindly into the future forever, even if it is fun and hip.

I think the next 3-5 years will see the deflation of some of these tech companies like Google and Apple, and the restoration of some of the old stalwarts like IBM and Microsoft, both in terms of stock prices/valuation, and in terms of the innovation attributed to them.

#36 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 02:55 PM


This is just a hype bubble in the process of collapsing. People got ludicrously inflated images of Google's sophistication, engineering prowess, hiring standards, processes, you name it.

...

They're just another large tech company.


this++;

Google is basically just growing out of its roots as a 90s-style dot com in many ways. They're reaching a point where they need to get more organized and more mature about their offerings, and they're going to have some teething problems with that. They've come incredibly far on the back of basically letting engineers do what engineers do, and they should never abandon that culture entirely, but at some point the scraggly college student has to cut his hair, trim that beard, and take on a more business-friendly face in order to get by (please note, this is reality for businesses as a whole, though I disagree that it should be a "reality" for individuals).

Someone else said that Google could no longer hide behind the "Beta" tag, and they're entirely correct. At some point you need to step up to the plate, solidify your APIs, stick to a reasonable schedule and roadmap, and provide support. Businesses and individuals that make use of such offerings thrive on stability, and certainty -- You can't build your business on a buggy, unsupported API that might be revoked (or who's licensing terms may change) at any time.

At some point every company has to slow down, take stock of where its done well, and hunker down there -- the entire company can't go on charging blindly into the future forever, even if it is fun and hip.

I think the next 3-5 years will see the deflation of some of these tech companies like Google and Apple, and the restoration of some of the old stalwarts like IBM and Microsoft, both in terms of stock prices/valuation, and in terms of the innovation attributed to them.


You basically exactly summarized my frustration with Google, with more clarity but less emotion and vitriol. I just personally think Google is well past the point they should have become a "Big Boy" business and yet they show no signs of even starting the process, while at the same time moving more and more into markets that very much require stability and support. The 90s was a long time ago at this point.

That said, cry no tears over IBM, take a look at a 10 year stock plot. IBM may not be praised on the internet, but all Wall Street they are a darling and Louis Gerstner is regarded as a messiah of sorts among the business types. Now Microsoft, they are a stock that has taken an absolute beating, which I really don't understand. They remained profitable through a very lousy economy, managed to diversify into a number of markets, have good to great growth and a low P/E ratio. I really though they would be a safe harbour stock during the recession, but boyo was I wrong. Then again, they are run by an idiot and until Ballmer is gone, Microsoft stock is going to suffer, I am amazed the board hasn't ousted him yet, especially after trying to spend 40 billion on Yahoo, to say nothing of 8 billion for Skype!

#37 Ravyne   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 7112

Posted 02 November 2011 - 04:33 PM

Regarding IBM specifically, they have done well over the past decade, but they had, at some point before that, fallen out of favor with investors, and more importantly in the court of public opinion as one of the harbingers of tech innovation. Microsoft came along and by Windows 95, it was Microsoft that was the new star of Tech innovation. Now, Microsoft finds itself in that stage of its life -- the hot new thing (Google) has come along -- and the perception of Microsoft simply will not change (in terms of stock price or recognition) no matter how good Microsoft does at innovating or executing on its existing products. Now, we see signs of Google beginning its descent into this same role, and with that, Microsoft will do as IBM did as rebuild its credibility for innovation. In a lot of ways, this pattern seems to be par for the course for tech companies -- The new darlings get put on a pedestal and become grossly overvalued -- they can do no wrong; then, the shoe drops at some point (usually due to new competition, changing landscape, or overreaching) and opinion swings too far the other direction -- but eventually people regain their senses and the company moves into a stable and rightful place where it can again begin to grow at a reasonable pace. In short, IBM begat Microsoft, Microsoft begat Google, and Google begat... we'll see. IBM has climbed out of their trough, Microsoft is just starting to, and Google is heading towards their descent.

Regarding Microsoft and Balmer, Balmer is not a problem -- He's actually a really great business man, and he's turned around or focused a lot of profitability -- What he lacks that Gates had, was *vision*. Which is not to say that he has no vision, but that Gates had a very clear, very bold vision of what the world could be and how Microsoft could be a part of it. Basically, the problem is not that Balmer replaced Gates as CEO, but that no one yet has replaced Gates the visionary. I don't think there's any significant, long-term value in ousting Balmer -- If he were out tomorrow, you would probably see a bump in the stock short-term just on perception alone, but he knows the company and the business well, and it would become apparent over the next several quarters what had been lost. I'd like to see someone like Steven Sinofsky take on that visionary role officially, but I imagine he's already quite influential at his current level.

As a disclaimer, I'm a Microsoft employee; and I've got a good friend who works at Google.

#38 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 04:56 PM

Regarding IBM specifically, they have done well over the past decade, but they had, at some point before that, fallen out of favor with investors, and more importantly in the court of public opinion as one of the harbingers of tech innovation. Microsoft came along and by Windows 95, it was Microsoft that was the new star of Tech innovation. Now, Microsoft finds itself in that stage of its life -- the hot new thing (Google) has come along -- and the perception of Microsoft simply will not change (in terms of stock price or recognition) no matter how good Microsoft does at innovating or executing on its existing products. Now, we see signs of Google beginning its descent into this same role, and with that, Microsoft will do as IBM did as rebuild its credibility for innovation. In a lot of ways, this pattern seems to be par for the course for tech companies -- The new darlings get put on a pedestal and become grossly overvalued -- they can do no wrong; then, the shoe drops at some point (usually due to new competition, changing landscape, or overreaching) and opinion swings too far the other direction -- but eventually people regain their senses and the company moves into a stable and rightful place where it can again begin to grow at a reasonable pace. In short, IBM begat Microsoft, Microsoft begat Google, and Google begat... we'll see. IBM has climbed out of their trough, Microsoft is just starting to, and Google is heading towards their descent.


One major difference though, before Gerstner righted that ship, IBM was actually going down fast. They were losing money, and their two biggest market segments ( Big Iron mainframes and personal computers ) were going down the toilet and their software portfolio was falling just as fast. OS2 was basically on it's way to an early grave. In the 3 years leading up to Gerstner's hire, IBM lost 16B dollars, and 8B in the last year alone. By today's standards 8B is pocket change, but then that was an outstanding amount of money to lose. Pretty much everyone predicted IBM's death. There fall from grace was very much deserved, they fell quite behind the curve and paid the price. Microsoft on the other hand continue to dominate their primary markets and is obscenely profitable. Granted they aren't sitting on the hoards of cash they used to be, but then, sitting on hoards of cash is generally seen as a very stupid thing to do. Thus Microsoft paid a dividend. That seems to be the point the stock got a black eye and stagnated in the market. Microsoft has done well, extremely well, but investors are the biggest fanboys of all ( which is scary when you think about it ), and sex appeal more than actual hard numbers drive stock valuations these days.



Regarding Microsoft and Balmer, Balmer is not a problem -- He's actually a really great business man, and he's turned around or focused a lot of profitability -- What he lacks that Gates had, was *vision*. Which is not to say that he has no vision, but that Gates had a very clear, very bold vision of what the world could be and how Microsoft could be a part of it. Basically, the problem is not that Balmer replaced Gates as CEO, but that no one yet has replaced Gates the visionary. I don't think there's any significant, long-term value in ousting Balmer -- If he were out tomorrow, you would probably see a bump in the stock short-term just on perception alone, but he knows the company and the business well, and it would become apparent over the next several quarters what had been lost. I'd like to see someone like Steven Sinofsky take on that visionary role officially, but I imagine he's already quite influential at his current level.


I used to have that impression, but after watching the recent moves of trying to buy Yahoo ( for a massively over valued amount ), then this horrific purchase of Skype, those levels of epic stupid can only really be hung on the CEO's head. That's the ludicrous part, Ballmer seems to be making desperation plays to try and bouy the stock, when the financials and future of the company are so solid.


I hold some MSFT, and I am so on the fence about continuing to hold it. I purchased it fairly recently so I am not underwater like many investors, but in a time where other companies that show a glimmer of financial hope go through the stratosphere Microsoft stock continues to flounder. It's so freaking irritating, as all the rules of investing seem to have gone completely out the toilet lately. Microsoft trading at 9.4 P/E ratio is almost criminal given their continued increases in both revenue and profit, especially in this economy! Especially with GOOG trading at 20 P/E with their ongoing proof they can't expand other profit centers... it all just makes no effing sense.

#39 ApochPiQ   Moderators   -  Reputation: 14885

Posted 02 November 2011 - 05:11 PM

On the off chance you haven't read this, you really ought to.

I'm not just pulling this stuff out of thin air. The facts of Google's situation are pretty easy to come by, and the fact of the matter is that they do not have any manner of focus on being a development tools or platforms company, at least not right now.

I'm not even trying to argue that their stance is a good one; frankly I'm of the opinion that they're grossly overrated and most of the company deserves to wither and die. So don't misinterpret this as a defense of Google. If anything, my point is that the only reason Google seems worth attacking is because people had overblown expectations. If you come to the table with the assumption that they're just another fallible, prone-to-crap large tech company, it shouldn't surprise you at all that their tools are the way they are.

And honestly, if you weren't surprised but still managed to get this vitriolic about the issue, you need a vacation or something ;-)

#40 Serapth   Crossbones+   -  Reputation: 5309

Posted 02 November 2011 - 05:37 PM

And honestly, if you weren't surprised but still managed to get this vitriolic about the issue, you need a vacation or something ;-)


This may very much be the case; a frame of reference, I made the initial post after banging my head against the wall of Google's shoddy craftsmanship... but you are right, a vacation is probably very much in the cards! :)

I did read that rant the day it leaked, it was pretty insightful, but I remember there being a comment of pure and absolute arrogance that I almost choked my coffee while drinking...

You know how people are always saying Google is arrogant? I'm a Googler, so I get as irritated as you do when people say that. We're not arrogant, by and large. We're, like, 99% Arrogance-Free. I did start this post -- if you'll reach back into distant memory -- by describing Google as "doing everything right". We do mean well, and for the most part when people say we're arrogant it's because we didn't hire them, or they're unhappy with our policies, or something along those lines. They're inferring arrogance because it makes them feel better.

In the same paragraph he basically states that Google isn't arrogant, then goes on to say anyone that thinks Google is arrogant it's simply because they aren't good enough to work there. I read that, read it again, tried reading it one more time with my head tilted at a 45 degree angle, then came to the conclusion that it wasn't in fact meant to be ironic. Then I had to go get paper towel to wipe the coffee off my keyboard and screen.

He is also woefully dismissive of the power of the accident, the simple being at the right place at the right time. For example Apple very much does not get it. They got lucky and adapted quick, but Apple is horrible at building a platform. They make these wonderful devices, and a good ecosystem around it, but their platform stuff is shit. Building the company around iTunes? Argh. iTunes in general? How many failed "Apple in the cloud" products have we already seen? 3, or is it 4? Only just now do they seem to be approaching a 1.0 product. And ascribing the App Store to Apple is a joke to anyone with a vague grasp of history... the iPhone shipped with no SDK and no intention to release an SDK. It was going to be web apps only, and poor bastards stuck with a pre-3g iphone are still stuck with that. Market forces created the App Store and release of a native SDK, not some grand Apple strategy.




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