Thursday, May 1, 2014

Taking on Google

When we first launched Scribble Maps our original logo was actually created based on the Google logo. For those of you who actually have been using Scribble Maps for that long you might remember it. However, as Scribble Maps and our derivative products get more popular we often have people ask us, "are you not worried about Google?"

This is an interesting question because Google provides much of the technology we use. In fact, before our recent API we were totally at the will of Google. Just recently we have launched a new product called MapYourList.com and this also competes with Google and yet simultaneously uses a Google enterprise license. So why do we not fear Google even though it seems like sometimes they are trying to compete directly with us or an even better question is why would we even bother trying to take them on?

There are actually several reasons we do not fear Google and for developers who happen to be reading this, I hope this gives you some hope about building products that "compete" against Google.

#1 Google can't actually compete with you
Products always have many features and Google has a particularly interesting problem that they have to build things that work for as many as people as possible. They can't build a thousand different niche companies because it would just be too expensive. We don't care about the features Google may have that compete with us, we care about the features they don't.

#2 Google has a lot of disenfranchised customers
Google has a history of shutting down products, everyone knows it. Google will shut down any product that is costing more to run than it is making unless they have other tactical reasons not to. This is probably the only negative thing I can think about when it comes to Google. When they decided to stop supporting the Google Flash Maps API that put us into a situation where we literally had to rebuild everything. This could of been far more damaging to us except for the fact that we knew we had to move to HTML5 to support mobile devices.

#3 For Google it is much harder to roll out new/test features
We have sometimes implemented new features within two days of user requests. We don't have to go through any major process to turn features around. Google on the other hand has so many users and is such a large company and get so many requests that they simply can't do this.

The Future
At the end of the day people have different preferences. Some people like Pepsi and some people like Coke. It's the same deal with applications. The really important thing is to focus on value for your customers and pay attention to their requests but stay true to your vision and focus of your product.

One of the reasons we launched MapYourList.com was because our users wanted the ability to easily map list data but we didn't want to over complicate the Scribble Maps interface everyone loves. So we made the decision to create it as a secondary product fully knowing we were going into competition with not only Google but some others as well. However, we didn't build it to try and steal their customers, we built it for our own.

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