Monday, July 27, 2015

Google Maps the Course to a New Blue Ocean

In the Huffington Post article, “Google Just Took Another Small Step Toward Replacing Your Brain” we can see how Google is beginning to create a new blue ocean, by taking technology that is already available that can be joined together to create a new valuable experience for customers, something that they likely didn’t even know they wanted up to this point. Google has created a “Your Timeline” integration with their popular Google Maps feature that allows you to search a specific day from the past and provided you have had your GPS enabled, it will be able to tell you where you traveled on that day as well as link to any photos you took that day. While Google and Apple have battled heavily for superiority in a red ocean for their maps feature, this new unexpected feature may tip the scales in favor of Google going forward. It is value pioneering as an incumbent in an attractive industry, and changing what was previously used as a navigation feature and turning it into a place to view your memories, almost like a journal where the recording is done for you in real time.

While it is hard to say at this point in time how they will begin to monetize this initiative, as it is a free offering, they are creating a cost savings to consumers in terms of time. Currently, for someone to utilize this functionality, they would have to go on several different apps to determine their path for a day in the past. They might search through past emails or calendar to determine their route, their photo app to view their memories from the day, and facebook, opentable, and yelp to determine the stops they made on their route. Google has taken a reconstructionist view of the maps market, by taking all of that existing technology to develop a new integrated memory experience for users. 

By entering into a new uncontested space, Google will likely further solidify itself as indispensable to many people in their daily life. As is noted in the article, while similar features have existed in Apple before, they have not been nearly as functional. The reason Apple was likely unsuccessful is because of the second element in the failure framework introduced in “The Innovator’s Dilemma”, in that the technology progressed faster than market demand. Google is hitting upon the technology at the right point when its maps and photo features were prepared to offer a solid standalone Timeline product, not just an offhand added feature to the maps app. We will have to wait and see what the adoption rate of the feature is, but to essentially be able to search the catalog of your life is a prospect that is certainly intriguing to this user.  



The Innovator’s Dilemma (Christensen, 1997)


Blue Ocean Strategy (Kim and Mauborgne, Harvard Business Review, Oct ’04)

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