Lack of Internal Talks at Microsoft, Google

Maybe my “Microsoft’s Entertainment Domination” theory was a bit premature. Apparently, the Zune MP3 player isn’t flying off shelves and now it turns out that the Zune is incompatible with Microsoft’s latest Windows Vista operating system. Amazing how a disconnect like this can occur within an organization. Software start-ups are taking advantage of the lowered development costs and the speedy development time — and forcing large software organizations to speed up their own development cycles, but in the process, the large organizations are fumbling to communicate effectively amongst their departments.

A disconnect is happening over at Google as well. Their policy of allowing employees to spend 20% of their work time on projects that interest them, mixed with rapid headcount growth, and pressure from Wall Street to keep up their impressive growth, has led to an obvious lack of conversations internally.

Last month, Sergey Brin began leading an initiative at Google focused on “Features, not products,” because the 50+ products in various development stages available at were beginning to lead to user confusion. One of Google’s top priorities is trying to replace desktop applications with web-based applications and tap into Microsoft’s $12 billion annual revenue stream from Office-related software. That initiative started with Gmail (for email), and has led to Google Docs (formerly Writely), Google Calendar, Google Spreadsheets, and the rumored GDrive (for file storage, code-named “Platypus“). But if I’m pulling reports from Google Analytics, Google AdSense, or Google AdWords, I can only export them to Excel — not save (or open) directly into Google Spreadsheets. If I’m in Gmail, any ‘.doc’ attachments should open in Google Docs — they don’t currently.

Thanks to Eric Nagel for the Google observation.