Google Bites Off More Than It Can Chew

12.50pm AUGUST 1st and I was trying to make plans for lunch (priority #1).  No problem, I’ll just check my gmail account and use Google Maps to find the address. 

Gmail, Google Maps, Google.com, Google.com.au and Google.com.hk failed to respond (for at least 20 minutes).  

There is some chance that there is just a problem with the internet connection, but that would prevent me from publishing this post, so the internet connection must be fine.

Perhaps the internets [sic] is broken?  Typing “bing.com” into the web browswer and pressing enter loads Bing instantly.  A few sample searches confirm that the internets [sic] is still out there and seems to be working just fine.

The only logical conclusion is that the Google server must have crashed today.  I have not experienced this before and (after spending my lunch hour writing this post) it makes me much more inclined to use Bing in future. Even though it was a 20 minute abberation, down time is not what we have come to expect from Google. 

Perhaps this problem only affected myself or the Hong Kong metro area (let me know if you experienced similar difficulties!).  Or maybe it was something more significant: the roll out of Google+ has stretched Google’s global server capacity to breaking point. 

But let’s not run away with ourselves. 

This post is not intended to be a Google bashing.  However, my experience today raised a couple of interesting and important questions relevant to any consumer orientated company operating in an industry with low switching costs:

  1. How much tolerance should we (as consumers) have for a company that fails to perform as we expect? 
  2. How can a company that offers an increasingly homogeneous product build consumer loyalty?
  3. How concerned should shareholders be that a momentary failure to perform could disillusion millions of consumers and cost the company hundreds of millions of dollars ($$$)? 

The switching cost of moving across to Bing is zero after all … time for lunch.