Semel: 'Google Has No Plan'

AP's Mike Liedtke, covering Web 2.0 in San Francisco this week, wrote a piece in which he quoted Yahoo! CEO Terry Semel who reportedly said the following about Google at the show:

"So far they don't seem to have a plan, but maybe they do," Semel said Thursday during a question-and-answer session at an Internet conference. "Maybe magic will happen tomorrow."

Yet Google contends it does have a plan — to bring together content and functionality (search); it's called "Fusion." Right now, Fusion is officially about the personalized home page, but it probably is a product roadmap that extends beyond that.

The amusing or strange or ironic or purely coincidental thing here is that Yahoo!'s product strategy is similarly called FUSE: find, use, share, expand.

Is this a zeitgeist or "great company minds think alike" thing or is it, as Semel suggested in his talk, that Google is self-consciously adopting a similar strategy to Yahoo!? Not exactly.

When you dig down the two companies may be using similar phrases to describe what are ultimately different strategies. At the highest level, Google is emphasizing personalization, and Yahoo! is emphasizing content and community (though not to the exclusion of personalization). Google is an "aggregator"; Yahoo! is a destination. (Of course these crude statements don't fully capture what's going on at these complex companies.)

There is, however, a kind of "regression toward the mean" going on, with both companies and the larger competitive marketplace clearly influencing the other's strategies and product development.






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