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Eric Schmidt’s decision to hand back the Google CEO reigns to Larry Page has set tongues wagging as to the future health of arguably the world’s most important digital company.

Opinions range from its being a sign that Schmidt has completed his objective – and that of Google’s investors – to achieve the scale the company was searching for years ago, while others have said he was growing weary in the role and a younger face was needed.

Whatever the real reasons – and because of Google’s comms team, we’re unlikely to find these out – it does seem that Google needs some refreshing.

Yes, it’s search offering is still light years ahead of its competitors in terms of users, advertisers and revenues, and Android’s success has surprised many. But there isn’t the buzz about the company there once was, even as recently as just two years ago.

Of course, there’s only so long you can retain the excitement around being a sexy startup. Google became a global company quickly, but it remained fresh in the eyes of many because it was the key reason millions of businesses entered the online world. As these businesses have matured, however, their reliance on Google to hold their hand has lessened, and so, perhaps, has the excitement around the company.

So maybe the answer is Google Offers, its new group-buying site, announced today. If anything is en vogue online at the moment, it’s group buying. Google understood this with its failed bid to buy leading site Groupon last year.

While Groupon itself has risen fast, it’s not Google, so it has reason to be fearful that the search giant could usurp it from its market-leading position. However, Google has a track record of not being particularly successful in anything other than search (at least until Android). Cynics would look at Google Offers as yet another folly.

But this is an emerging sector that Google can quite easily slip into. It certainly ticks all the boxes to freshen its image, so it would be unwise to write it off so early.

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Published 21 January, 2011 by NMA Staff

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