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The Good, The Bad, The Ugly: Google 2008 Review

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2008 has been an up and down year for Google. From their stock price to the various products they have introduced or updated - it would seem the bloom is finally off the rose.

All investors are aware that Google has had a 52 week swing of 707.95 to 247.30 this year and they are currently hovering around the $300 level. While this can be partially blamed on the general economic malaise of 2008, another part is the drop in growth rate of the company. Not surprising, given the large percentage of the market they already had going into the year and the decrease in overall advertising budgets.

All year long there have been claims that search advertising is recession proof. Well apparently, in the short term, this has not been the case, though given many bigger budgets are preset, it is possible we will see this swing in 2009.

The Yahoo-Google as partnership seems like another misstep by Google this year. What was once seen as a move to stop Microsoft from buying Yahoo, has left Yahoo in even worse financial straits following the dissolving of the agreement due to pressure from the Department of Justice.

I suggested another more sinister possibility, in my own blog, where Google knew what it was doing, but perhaps that was a mere conspiracy theory. But the demise of Ringside Networks despite involvement with Google is a sad story.

Google's entry into the browser space did not go the way of most previous Google product launches. After 4 months, Chrome has barely grabbed 1% of the market - despite its promise and definite unique properties. Meanwhile, Mozilla has managed to increase to over 20%, and gets the bulk of its income from Google.

Though Chrome could be the future for Google - because while a browser it also is a web application execution platform. If they stay with their commitment, Chrome may be the product that ultimately makes Google the true organizer of the world's information.

Meanwhile, they have also had some successes.

The search engine, itself, added a few features that are very handy and will only become more popular with time such as the information on when pages were created, improved the use of snippets, and indexing of Flash. Many also see the including of search suggest as a default as an improvement.

The jury is still out on some of the new products Google launched this year. SearchWiki - the ability to shape your search results - and Knol - the Google version of a wikipedia.

The introduction of the much hyped G-phone - G1 - has not yet been the iPhone killer it had been thought.

Google has been increasing its involvement with its users reaching out through a number of its publishing and social networking products - such as providing insights into converting traffic with Conversion Room, their commitment to Open Social and the Black Googlers Network.

They have even improved the quality of the videos over at YouTube and offered niched landing pages.

It has been a mixed bag this year for Google, but without a doubt the company continues to provide helpful products. What 2009 brings we will have to wait and see, but can know it will not be passive.


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