Google Product Managers Look For The Next Big Thing

Google product managers need to find out what everyone wants next
Google product managers need to find out what everyone wants next
Image Credit: PROid-iom

I’m going to assume that by now we all have some form of a smartphone in our possession. No matter what type of smartphone you have, they can all do a lot: take pictures, surf the internet, and run countless apps. However, what comes next? Over at Google, the company that become famous for making it easy to search the internet, they also happen to make phones. Even as you read this the Google phone product managers are struggling to figure out what the next big thing is going to be.

Can You Hear Me Now?

The Google product managers are finding themselves with new competition these days. Traditionally everyone has always gone to the Google home page when they wanted to find something on the web or get an answer to a question. However, the product managers at both Amazon and Apple have been hard at work to change how people accomplish this task. Apple started things off by adding the Siri voice activated feature to their popular iPhone. Simply by speaking a question, an iPhone user can have their phone automatically translate their spoken command into a computer search command. Likewise, the Amazon product managers have created the Echo in-home listening device that waits for you to ask it a question and then searches the web for an answer. Now that’s something to put on your product manager resume!

The Google product managers have been watching all of this and they get it. They can see how popular both Siri and Echo have been. They realize that if they don’t do something quickly then all too quickly Google may no longer be a key tool that people use to search the web. In order to address this problem, the Google product managers have rolled out their answer: a wireless speaker called Home. At the same time they rolled out two versions of the Google smartphone called Pixel that has a feature called Assistant baked into it. Each of these devices is designed to leverage Google’s work in artificial intelligence (AI) in order to respond to a user’s voice commands.

Google leaders have stated that they believe that the world is changing. They believe that we are evolving from a mobile-first to an AI-first world. The Google product managers are starting things late in this race. This is a big deal because Google generated 90% of its revenue via advertising that it got by displaying ads when people used Google tools to search the web. The Google product managers want to hang on to their customers by convincing people to start to use their Assistant technology to use their voice to search the web. Back in the day, Google was not the first company to offer tools to search the web, but they did become the biggest. The Google product managers are hoping that they’ll be able to do the same thing when it comes to voice activated web searching.

What Will The Future Look Like?

With the arrival of all of this voice activated technology, what do the Google product managers believe that our future is going to look like? Google likes to talk about what it calls its knowledge graph which is an index of more than a billion web entries. However, the experts who are looking at the voice activated product market agree that Google is going to have to move quickly. Google is going to have to find ways to change their product development definition to use their Assistant technology across its entire product line.

One of the things that may be holding the future back is that the Google product managers have not chosen to incorporate the Assistant technology into the base Android operating system. If they had done that then all of the apps that run on the Android operating system could make use of it. This is being viewed as being a big flaw in the product manager’s product plan. Everyone believes that Assistant needs to be made part of the Android operating system very quickly. To be successful, Assistant has to be made available everywhere.

The real power of Assistant for the Google product managers is that it is going to allow them to capture even more information about their customers. In order to make this happen, Google plans on making Assistant as useful as possible by linking it to other third party applications. Google is currently in discussions with Uber, Netflix, OpenTable, Facebook, and TicketMaster to incorporate voice commands that will work with their applications. The Google Home product’s first priority is going to be the playing of music. When its owner asks it to play music, it will launch that music from whatever music streaming source the owner has selected. These sources could include Spotify, Pandora, TuneIn, and iHeartRadio.

What All Of This Means For You

The world of the internet continues to change. Back in the day, when we wanted to search the internet we’d go to the Google home page and enter our search terms. However, the arrival of Apple’s Siri and Amazon’s Echo products have all of sudden made searching using voice commands simple, accurate, and easy. It sure sounds like it’s time for the Google product managers to go back and check their product manager job description. What are the Google product managers to do?

It turns out that the Google product managers have not been sleeping. They’ve seen what has been going on and have created their own voice activated product called Home. Coupled with a new feature called Assistant that is being worked into the newest Google Pixel phones, Google is getting ready to take on Apple and Amazon. If Google can convince people to use their Assistant technology, then they’ll be able to hold on to their existing customers and learn more about them. As cool as Google’s new voice activated technology is, the experts say that they are going to have to work it into all of their products. This means that it’s going to have to be worked into the Android operating system. Google needs to make Assistant part of all of their products.

Nobody can disagree that making a mobile phone support voice commands makes it a lot easier to use. Likewise, if when we are at home we can make things happen simply by saying out loud what we want to happen the our lives will become that much easier. The real challenge that the Google product managers are facing is that they are late to this party – Apple and Amazon are already there. Google has some fantastic technology that it can work into its voice command products, we’re going to have to see if this is going to be enough to allow Google to once again dominate this part of the internet search market.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Product Management Skills™

Question For You: What could the Google product managers do to make their voice command product different from Apple ad Amazon’s?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Product managers for stores that sell toys have an interesting problem on their hands. Sure, when Christmas swings around, their stores are going to be filled with parents who are searching for the next hot toy for their children this year. However, once Christmas has come and gone, just exactly how are the product managers supposed to get people to come into their stores? A new type of product, called tiny collectables, just might be the thing to do the trick.