Google I/O Keynote 2014

June 26th, 2014

I do not think it is fair to compare Apple’s WWDC keynote with Google’s I/O keynote. It should be fair. But the two simply do not compare.

It should be fair because WWDC and I/O are both developer conferences. WWDC and I/O both begin by largely attended, well rehearsed, staged keynotes by top executives at each company. It should be fair because Apple and Google both have incredibly talented employees, great products, deep pockets and the incentive to do great presentations for both developers and the tech media.

So why isn’t it fair to compare the two? Because they don’t seem to be in the same league. Imagine comparing a professional basketball player and someone who simply plays pick up games from time-to-time. It would be an unfair comparison. What’s more, you may even feel bad for the underdog and try your best to cull together a compliment so they don’t feel so bad about themselves.

The Grubes, over on Daring Fireball:

Now imagine if Apple held a WWDC keynote like this, and the shit storm that would ensue. The reactions would be apoplectic. There’d be pundits calling for Tim Cook to be fired.

You see? Even the tech media feel bad calling Google out for its lack-luster presentations. They do their best not too shame them too badly. They wouldn’t want to huwt wittle Google feewings. 🙁

It should, however, be more like comparing Kobe Bryant with LeBron James when they were both at the top of their games. But it isn’t. In fact, Google isn’t the only large technology company that is subpar at these types of events. Microsoft and Samsung are equally as bad. Even Amazon is better!

Everyone knows this. This isn’t a secret. And no one expects Google to come out and wow everyone with their abilities on stage. And, to be fair, presentations aren’t everything. If Apple were able to put on amazing product demonstrations yet never ship anything — they’d be Microsoft!

I suppose it comes down to one thing; substance. Set aside Google’s faux-pas during their keynote (it happened to Steve Jobs from time-to-time too) — if their keynotes were full of some real, meaningful stuff then it wouldn’t matter that their presentations were less than great. But Google I/O this year was a lot of fluff around relatively few, albeit pretty great things.

I think a good example of substantiative, yet less than stellar, presentations is the Wolfram suite of products. Most presentations of Wolfram Alpha aren’t too terribly interesting unless you’re a computer scientist. In fact, most of them go way over my head. But even a neophyte like me can understand the incredible utility of Wolfram Alpha. It is absolutely incredible stuff.

My take aways from Google I/O are the following:

  • Android L looks like a major step forward for the platform
  • android gear, android tv, android auto all have great potential. We’ll see.
  • The Gmail API release should have received more attention
  • Google seems to be shifting from betting on glasses to betting on watches
  • The demo gods were not with them, developers won’t care, media does

I love when the largest companies are tackling the hardest problems because they have the resources, people, and scale to be able to do it. Google is a company that is fighting battles on many, many fronts. I have the highest hopes that they’ll continue to throw their weight at these problems and solve some of them for the betterment of all of us.

But they need some help with their presentations.