Google's New Organization: Not Everything Seems To Fit

Larry Page returned as CEO of Google on Monday, and now the company has a new organizational structure as well. The new business units add a degree of definition that company strategy needed. But with the pros come some potential cons. What pet projects will have to go, and how much could Google upset employees and customers in the process?

Liz Gannes at All Things Digital reported that there is a list of seven business units:

  • Chrome
  • social
  • mobile
  • YouTube and video
  • search
  • ads
  • commerce and local
Immediately, there seem to be conflicts suggesting that either not everything that Google has been working on will remain, or there will be some pretty significant strategic tripping.

Chrome OS is clearly a mobile operating system, intended as it is for a netbook, and yet how could it be separated from the browser? Perhaps the biggest advantage it potentially has is the interconnectedness with Chrome browser running on a desktop or laptop. The same apps and look and feel could be had for the trouble of logging in.

So, does Google drop the product now? Or does it keep a second mobile operating system that doesn't come under the control of the mobile business unit? If the latter, strategy for mobile will be difficult to coordinate and execute, and given how important mobile is to Google, that would be bad.

Google has an ebook store as well as apps for smartphones, tablets, ebook readers, and the Web. That doesn't seem like search. Is it commerce? Or is commerce about offering e-commerce features to other companies? Mobile, as it's creating apps for mobile?

Google Apps seems to be in the middle of nowhere, given the current structure. Maybe collaboration comes under social, but the apps are as much for individual end users. There is also a decided business focus of the products which doesn't fit neatly into any of the other categories. Perhaps it goes under Chrome because they are applications that run in a browser. Then there are all those other applications, like SketchUp or Picasa, that download to a desktop.

There will be some overlap, though perhaps Google will decide to kill off many projects that form the complicated set of offerings. (Google Labs alone has 55 different products.) As Page tries to get more needed organization into Google's activities, what will happen to the company's culture? Engineers are used to working on pet projects a percentage of their time. Will they now have to ensure that their ideas properly fit into one of the company's business unit strategies? Working out the kinks in the reorganization is probably going to more time than Page and his management team like.

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Image: morgueFile user jdurham.