It’s been fascinating to observe Google from both the inside and the outside. I agree Google isn’t dying. It can’t until Google’s business model stops working (and I don’t expect that for at least another 3-5 years).
Google, on the other hand, has some obvious issues that aren’t going away and appear to be getting worse. On the one hand, it’s got new shiny markets like Android where all of the innovation/hirings seem to be happening. On the other hand, you’ve got its core business (Search) where spam is on the rise. In the middle, you’ve got all of its services (Mail/Docs/Apps, etc) where it’s gotten to be quite a mess. Their GA+ (multiple account) migrations (3+ years in the works) is still utterly broken for many and at best dysfunctional for most. Enterprise services like Postini still (after 3 years) act like a tacked-on wart. Offline, one of GMail’s oldest features, is still unavailable on Chrome. Youtube’s long-running HTML5 “beta” at its most basic level still doesn’t work right. Long-expected services like GDrive haven’t been realized. You can name many other examples like this.
Speaking as a systems guy, Google hasn’t done a lot of innovation (apart from mobile) since around 2006. The vast majority of what has been done since then has been incremental improvement or outright acquisition.
Google’s not dying, but it is at a crossroads. Its internal mindshare seems to be increasingly distracted and unfocused. Middle management routinely seems to be part of the problem and not the solution. Engineers are now heavily siloed into their own turf. Google increasingly is being compared to Yahoo of 5 years earlier. The next 5 years will be interesting.
Google generates 98% of their revenue from a single product – search Ads. Facebook generates over $1 billion in income from advertisements on its platform. Twitter won’t be far behind. So any way you look at it, Google’s influence in highly-sought-after Ad markets is waning.
But Google is hardly dying. Android is wildly successful and gives an entirely new ad medium for Google. Google Apps is starting to chip away at Microsoft’s cash cow – Microsoft Office. Chrome OS is on its way, and it will compete with Microsoft’s other cash cow, Windows. Google is diversifying its revenue streams and growing into new markets. They have a dominant search business, they will shortly be the market share leader in mobile operating systems, and they have the most impressive collection of engineering talent in the world working at their company. More than ever, the company is positioned to grow the market for advertising by knowing what people are doing in their everyday lives through Gmail, Google Now, Glass, Maps, etc. Google is a massive company that is invested in many things, it’s unlikely that Google will die completely anytime in the near future. They may lose some of their products, but the company as a whole will live on for a very long time.
Dying, no. Changing, Yes. And that change is what will keep them alive and growing for the next 20 years.