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What Would Google Do? Hardcover – January 27, 2009

3.9 out of 5 stars 169 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

This scattered collection of rambling rants lauding Google's abilities to harness the power of the Internet Age generally misses the mark. Blog impresario Jarvis uses the company's success to trace aspects of the new customer-driven, user-generated, niche-market-oriented, customized and collaborative world. While his insights are stimulating, Jarvis's tone is acerbic and condescending; equally off-putting is his pervasive name-dropping. The book picks up in a section on media, where the author finally launches a fascinating discussion of how businesses—especially media and entertainment industries—can continue to evolve and profit by using Google's strategies. Unfortunately, Jarvis may have lost the reader by that point as his attempt to cover too many topics reads more like a series of frenzied blog posts than a manifesto for the Internet age. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Jarvis, columnist and blogger about media, presents his ideas for surviving and prospering in the Internet age, with its new set of rules for emerging technologies as well as industries such as retail, manufacturing, and service. We learn that customers are now in charge, people anywhere can find each other and join forces to support a company’s efforts or oppose them, life and business are more public, conversation has replaced marketing, and openness is the key to success. Jarvis’ other laws include being a platform (help users create products, businesses, communities, and networks of their own); hand over control to anyone; middlemen are doomed; and your worst customer is your best friend, and your best customer is your partner. Jarvis offers thought-provoking observations and valuable examples for individuals and businesses seeking to fully participate in our Internet culture and maximize the opportunities it offers. It is unclear what role Google played, if any, in the preparation of this book, which provides excellent advertising for the company. --Mary Whaley
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 272 pages
  • Publisher: HarperBusiness; First Edition first Printing edition (January 27, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061709719
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061709715
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.9 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (169 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #600,793 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

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By Kathleen San Martino TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on January 22, 2009
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Jeff Jarvits explains how Google is so successful by:

1. being free
2. acting fast
3. allowing customers to decide (thereby eliminating the third party or agent)
4. providing the most prevalent links based on their ranking ("Googlejuice")
5. etc...

The author gives numerous examples of successful companies which employ similar tactics such as etsy, craigslist, and Amazon. He describes various reasons why these tactics work.

The author certainly elaborates on enough strategies that make Google and others like Google online successes; however, the text drags on endlessly and in a somewhat unorganized fashion that I felt he was verbally vomiting. It was like reading an endless blog instead of a book. If found myself repeatedly asking these two questions:

1. What did I just read?
2. What information did I get out of reading this?

In summary, a person who is thinking of embarking on a net presence will probably find that there's enough material in this book to guide them into doing what Google does. However, since the text rambles on, that person will have to jot down important details as he or she reads in order to remember it. If the book were better organized, more concise and definitive in its evaluation of what Google and others like Google do, and had a clearer table of contents (chapter headings), I would have rated it four stars.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
What would Google do if it were writing books on business? Probably not write a book like this one. Most business books, like most Saturday Night Live skits, have a nut that's worth a couple minutes of air at most that are dragged out into an interminable pileup. To be sure, there are some interesting and illuminating ideas that Jarvis presents here, but they don't merit 200 pages.

Jarvis seeks to show how Google is the Future, but this gets lost in all his self-promotion and name dropping about his Davos luncheons. Not all of that is bad; his own struggle to get a laptop that works (and the ensuing, minor media racket he was able to generate) provide some good fodder for business and life lessons. One of which ("...your customer is your brand") is even quite profound.

But there is always a but. To get to these nuggets, you have to bushwhack through Jarvis' prose tic of coining absurd neologisms ("Googlethink", "Googlejuice", more and worse to come) and his inane triumphalism. In the introduction, Jarvis sets this tone by writing "We begin by examining the new power structure of the economy and society, where we, the people, are suddenly in charge--empowered by Google".

On the face of it alone, this notion is outrageous. Our Ourubian economy's slide is nothing less than a ratification of "old power structures" at work, regardless of where you're sitting. Even if you're at lunch with Jarvis at Davos.

Jarvis has the stuff in here to have written a short book about Google, without the silly, technorati zeal ("At Google, we are God and our data is the Bible...") and the reliance on old, worn out cliches about how Google's dominance presages "Geeks...coming to rule the culture" which constantly undercut Jarvis' allegations of "old models" being upturned.
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Format: Hardcover
It never fails that the latest hot company becomes the model for how all businesses should be run. Unfortunately, Jarvis' book is no exception. He takes a down industry (U.S. car companies) and compares it with one of the company's most successful (Google). Apples and oranges. He asserts that Google's openness is the fix for the problems with automobile industry.

First, let's be clear. Google is not open by any stretch of the imagination. You can't get a 2-3 year view into their product roadmap. Google's data centers are top secret. If they're so open, why not let people tour them like Miller does its breweries or Boeing it airplane manufacturing plant? I, for one, would love to tour their facility. It'd be fascinating (geeks rule!). Second, Google doesn't implement everything its users want. GMail users have asked for custom folders to organize their email but instead get categories. Why isn't the customer's feedback taken into consideration? Every other mail provider allows for this. Lastly, their beta programs never seem to end. Beta programs, by definition, let users give feedback but they're also unsupported. "We lost your mail? Sorry, that's a beta." If the folks in Detroit rolled all of their cars off of the assembly line with a "beta" lable people could be killed. Thanks, but no thanks. Some of the cars coming from Detroit may not be award-winning but at least they are well tested and safe.

Certainly, the automobile manufacturers as well as all industries could benefit from the feedback loop that instrumentation allows. Unfortunately, they don't have the connectivity to each car that Google and other high tech companies are beneficiaries. Google knows where people click, how long they stay on a page, etc.
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Format: Hardcover
Google is an impressive company, with a 71% market-share of U.S. Internet searches in 2008, and 87% in the U.K. Does that make it's approach a "cure-all?" Should President Obama, and the chiefs of U.S. Airways, G.E., the New York Yankees, Governor Palin, etc. simply call up Google's leaders for advice?

Before answering, read on. "Owning pipelines, people, products, or even intellectual property is no longer the key to success - openness is." Oh, oh - sounds like Enron a few years ago. [...] Then, its "middlemen are doomed" - tell that to a truck driver taking load after load to warehouses. (Yes, I know the Internet will force real estate agents to greatly cut their commissions, but it won't eliminate them. Somebody has to verify a home's specifics, the financing, etc.)

Jarvis then forecasts the demise of newspapers and praises the benefit to the environment. But, as Nicholas Carr points out in "The Big Switch," we'll probably end up with fewer articles on government (corruption, achievements), resurgence of malaria in Africa, etc. because there's no natural advertising link to such content, and readers will become more and more polarized as they pursue affinity groups.

Jarvis extols his own experience blogging about poor Dell service, and their subsequent improvements - almost a year later. He then forecasts companies (eg. BMW) using eg. Facebook groups to help design new cars. Again, perhaps - but what about the bias contributed by those using Facebook, and the fact that some companies dislike "focus groups" because they're easily dominated by the most vocal, and generally have poor future-vision?

As for getting rich blogging - Technorati estimates the average haul for bloggers with advertisements at [...], a Newsweek blogger reports 1.
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