Last week at DreamForce, Salesforce.com's annual orgy of self-congratulation, Google CEO Eric Schmidt took the opportunity to explain why Google dropped $12.5 billion for Motorola: The Internet search giant wants to make... telephones.
The world's most famous Internet company uses the annual conference of the company that practically invented the Software-as-a-Service industry to announce that Google's next business move is manufacturing telephones.
While everyone is running around with "software prohibited" buttons pinned to their sky-blue lanyards – get it, clouds in the sky? – one of the industry leaders in no-software applications is talking about making actual stuff.
Let that sink in.
There's certainly a message here. But not necessarily one that the boys – and I do mean boys, but more on that some other time – in Cloud Cukooland think they're hearing.
In other words, as more and more people attempt to do things "in the cloud," the Next Big Thing is making appliances that connect to it. Like, for example, telephones. Or e-readers.
Consider the Amazon Kindle. Remember Steve Jobs' remark when the Kindle was introduced, "The whole conception is flawed"?1 Four years later, Amazon's success with the Kindle is beyond doubt. In 2010, the Kindle eclipsed "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows" as the Amazon's single best-selling product. And that year e-books outsold physical books for the first time.2
Why is this? Simplicity.
Google has expressed itself very clearly on this point in the past:
"Google doesn‘t set out to create feature-rich products; our best designs include only the features that people need to accomplish their goals… Google teams think twice before sacrificing simplicity in pursuit of a less important feature. Our hope is to evolve products in new directions instead of just adding more features."3
And this is an argument that it's time to get back to basics. Certainly, Salesforce.com's own success grew from its simplicity. Salesforce.com did one thing, was simple to start using, and the initial investment – money, time and effort – was low.
Something like a telephone.Next: Cloud Dreamin' – Desperately Seeking Infrastructure
- Cnet Reviews: Fully Equipped, "Steve Jobs meets the Kindle," David Carnoy, Feb. 5, 2009.
- Amazon Q4 2010 report, Amazon 2009 Annual Report.