Google’s Recession Antidote: Innovation

26 August 09

Google's Recession Antidote: Innovation

Since last fall, the news has been dominated by tales of woe: companies going under, layoffs, downsizing, restructuring, billions of dollars lost. It’s no wonder that organizations today feel handcuffed to the point that innovation takes a back seat to simply staying afloat. But a few companies are bucking the trend and seem to be more focused on growth and innovation than ever before. One of these companies is Google.

In the last 3 months alone, Google has announced groundbreaking new projects such as Google Voice, the Chrome operating system, and Google Wave. These projects, which have been brewing for as many as five years now, are major growth opportunities for a company whose core search business is beginning to plateau. While some companies have chosen to stop work on major, untested new projects, Google has opted to charge forward and is planting a number of important seeds for its future. Will all of these new projects be runaway successes? Probably not. Will at least one of them take off? No one can be sure, but given Google’s track record, it’s very likely. We’ve all read the snippet about Google launching its search business during the dot-com bust in 2000. Read the rest of this entry »


GMail Autopilot

1 April 09

One of my favorite aspects of April Fool’s Day is Google’s ‘release’ of new features and products. One such feature greeting me this morning is GMail Autopilot

As more and more everyday communication takes place over email, lots of people have complained about how hard it is to read and respond to every message. This is because they actually read and respond to all their messages. Read the rest of this entry »

Plugging Forward

31 March 09


It’s been an exciting few weeks for some of the world’s most famous innovators. Apple unveiled the latest iPhone/iPod Touch operating system (who knew software could be so exciting?) and unveiled its third-generation iPod shuffle. Amazon released the Kindle2, a welcomed follow-up to its popular eReader. Facebook updated its homescreen layout. Google released a new ‘Undo Send’ feature to GMail. The list goes on… you get the idea.

The point is that things are still happening-despite all the negativity out there, smart companies are still plugging forward and improving their offerings. The five companies mentioned here have always kept things fresh with a pipeline of updates and enhancements, and that’s part of the reason these companies have done well. Just when things start to feel stale, they give their customers something new. Enhancements and updates are a relatively quick, low-risk way to keep innovation alive (and demand high) regardless of what’s happening in the economy.

What can you do to invigorate demand by freshening up your offerings? What small, meaningful enhancements and upgrades can you release? If you’re at a loss for ideas, just talk to your customers or scan customer reviews and you’ll uncover a trove of potentially valuable ideas. Just remember, innovation doesn’t always have to be ground-breaking and risky… sometimes the little things can have a big impact.

What does innovation look like for your organization given the state of the economy?

University 2.0?

6 February 09

At this week’s TED Conference, a new kind of academic institution was announced. Singluarity University, founded by world-renown futurist Ray Kurzweil and backed by Google and NASA,  “aims to assemble, educate and inspire a cadre of leaders who strive to understand and facilitate the development of exponentially advancing technologies and apply, focus and guide these tools to address humanity’s grand challenges.”

Singularity U will offer three programs to start: an Executive 3-Day Program will provide C-Suite execs with a strategic review of how technological change affects the overall business landscape; an Executive 10-Day Program for mid-level managers and business leaders; and a Graduate Studies Program lasting 9 weeks for graduate students and post-graduate students seeking to learn about various cross-disciplinary technologies. Programs will start in the summer of 2009, and be limited to about 30 students to start, the Singularity does intend to grow its class size over time. Singularity will focus on ten key areas of exploration and study: Read the rest of this entry »

Google Search Wiki

20 November 08

A few months ago, we wrote a post about the future of Web search. Specifically, we talked about a new feature that Google was experimenting with at the time. Well, that experiment has now hit prime time and Google has announced its “Search Wiki” offering officially.

From the official Google Blog:

Today we’re launching SearchWiki, a way for you to customize search by re-ranking, deleting, adding, and commenting on search results. With just a single click you can move the results you like to the top or add a new site. You can also write notes attached to a particular site and remove results that you don’t feel belong. These modifications will be shown to you every time you do the same search in the future. SearchWiki is available to signed-in Google users. We store your changes in your Google Account. If you are wondering if you are signed in, you can always check by noting if your username appears in the upper right-hand side of the page. Read the rest of this entry »

Google’s Shiny Browser (beta)

8 October 08

Google released a beta version of its new browser, Google Chrome, a few weeks ago. Some of us here at futurethink have been using it since its launch, so we thought we’d put together some first impressions and thoughts. 

But first, some background. Chrome launched at the beginning of September, and was publicized with the launch of a little comic book that details its birth and development. The comic is an entertaining read, if, of course, you have any interest in how a Web browser works. If not, here’s the abridged version (and an overview of some of Chrome’s key features): Read the rest of this entry »

Ideas for Cash

26 September 08

In celebration of its 10th birthday, Google recently announced a ‘call for ideas to change the world’, called Project 10 to the 100th.

Up to five winning projects will split $10 million in funding, although apparently it’s possible that there’ll be only one winning project if that’s the only good idea.  Google employees and an advisory board of judges will select the top 100 projects and winners, respectively.  This type of project isn’t a new concept at all.  Actually, another “idea submission” project is in process right now. Read the rest of this entry »