Google’s Failure to Monetize AI
Google has been grappling with a conundrum over how to turn their Artificial Intelligence (AI) research into commercially viable products. In the opinion of many insiders, Google missed an opportunity to cash in on the immense potential of AI technology because the product development team did not understand the underlying technology or how to commercialize it. As a result, Google allowed the DeepMind team, without any product launches to their credit, to take over the AI project, doubling down on their failed strategy.
The DeepMind team made attempts to market AI products, but they failed due to a lack of expertise on the product design side of things. They were unable to launch the full capability of their chatbot, Allo, because of limiting legal concerns. Furthermore, the company’s ethics and safety teams were staffed with non-programmers. OpenAI, on the other hand, which treated safety as an engineering problem to be solved with technical solutions, had better luck on this front.
Google’s failure to monetize AI, despite being the pioneers who created the current AI space, can be traced back to the company’s focus on their ‘money-printer’ ad business, which has made them risk-averse and lazy, accumulating empire builders who breed a promotional culture. Their 0% interest rates have boosted their stock price but left them struggling on many fronts.
To monetize AI, Google must focus on product managers who understand the core technology and can commercialize it, as well as pragmatic engineers who can launch, execute, and maintain products. Microsoft’s investment in Copilot and the valuation of OpenAI show that a company that invests in its AI product can reap bountiful rewards.
Google needs to use its AI research breakthroughs to create products that offer obvious value to consumers. The company must find a singularly bold visionary who can articulate a clear vision and inspire the team to go all-in on product building rather than product managing. It’s time for Google to act fast, catch up with the competition, and leverage AI to its full potential.
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Author Eliza Ng