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Ho Hum, Google Tries to Keep the Embers Glowing

by John Moore | October 18, 2007

Google’s new leader of the Health Group, Marissa Mayer gave a very mundane presentation yesterday at the Web 2.0 conference in San Francisco and from various reports, it sounds like it was a complete bomb.

Granted, Marissa only had ten minutes to work with but you would think that in that time she could provide more than simple homilies and a Letterman-esque Top Ten list. No demos, no screen shots, and apparently no visionary statements like Adam Bosworth, Google Health’s former leader who mysteriously departed Google in early September. Marissa only gave a plea to stay tuned as they will formally launch something in early 2008.

Quite obvious that there has been a major re-thinking within the Google Health Group as to what their offering should consist of as it was not that long ago that they were distributing screenshots of proposed Google Health platform. A half year delay plus is a long time in the software industry, especially when there are a host of competitors jumping into the same market. Now with the recent Microsoft HealthVault release, Google may be giving even more thought to their offering to both differentiate themselves from Microsoft as well as insure that when they do hit the market, they will be offering something more for the consumer than just another Health Search engine , which is about all Microsoft can offer the consumer today.

So where is Google focusing its energy?

Based on Marissa’s comments, it looks like three key areas.

  • Search: Obviously, though it will be interesting as to how they provide such search capabilities as the Microsoft HealthVault search engine is impressive.
  • Local Care Provider Directory with Mapping: This makes a lot of sense as well and something they are already providingfor other business centric searches on emay perform. Now what would really set them apart is if they could combine this feature with quality and patient satisfaction metrics.
  • Archive and Retrieve Records: Again a logical extension of some of the things that Google is currently quite good at.

Nothing here really gets me excited. Ho Hum indeed.

So what’s missing? Well, hard for me to tell as I am basing this write-up on third-hand reports but what comes right-off the top of my head is a lack of creativity and imagination. Is this really the best they could think of to say at this conference?

I can only surmise that maybe Google is having second thoughts about how grand a vision they wish to pursue in this market. Maybe they took a hard-nosed look at just how difficult and challenging it will be for them to be successful and have decided to limit their exposure. Whatever it is one thing is certain, the vision is gone baby, the vision is gone.

3 responses to “Ho Hum, Google Tries to Keep the Embers Glowing”

  1. Anonymous Guy says:

    So, given the info that’s been released for Google Health, I’d agree that there appears to be a lack of vision. However, I’ve seen (and played) with an alpha of what they’ll ultimately be offering, and I’m here to tell you… it’s revolutionary in ways.

    My advice: don’t make any assumptions about what Google is doing with their PHR.

  2. sachi says:

    I agree with anonymous guy above…Goog’s just realized healthcare’s more complicated than expected..so they are taking baby steps…i feel they are being practical (and not vision-less)

  3. hitanalyst says:

    I tend to agree with the gist of both comments above. It’s not that Google is doing nothing, but it is apparent that Google is stepping back from some of its grander vision statements of the past. From what I have gathered through others that were at the Web 2.0 event, Marissa did not provide much in the way of visionary statements on what they are doing. Much more pragmatic.

    That is not always a bad thing, but what it does signal is that Google may not introduce anything that mind-blowing, but then again, I have not been privy to an early looksie of the PHR and anonymous guy may be right – we’ll have to wait and see.

    Maybe the most profound statement she made is about how Google is considering various subscription fee models for various services within their Health offering. This is something new for Google as to date, they have not directly applied fees to the consumer.

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