Posted by Neil Bennett 26 June 2014
Why the tech press shouldn't be chiding Google for its I/O keynote
Since yesterday’s keynote at the start of Google’s I/O developer conference, some parts of the mainstream tech press have gone into overdrive to call the company out for not including enough ‘buzz’.
These commentators – whose unwise words popped up across my Twitter feed last night and this morning – think that Google should have created an event with more of a focus on what its new products mean for consumers and showcasing ‘cool’ future tech such as drones and robots rather than design language and SDKs. They quote analysts who say the same things. But why are parts of the tech press more interested in whether I/O works for Google as a mainstream marketing exercise rather than the tech that’s on show?
At first glance, it seems odd to judge the beginning of a conference for developers as an event for a general audience – but this is what the keynote of Apple’s WWDC has become. Most of the Tim-and-Craig show there last month were as top-level as it gets. Yesterday’s Google I/O keynote was far nerdier.
Does Google have to change what it does in its keynote just because Apple has? That’s a valid question for the marketing press and for analysts – as that affects sales, which alongside market share are the successes analysts are look for. But the job of the tech press is to cut through that bullshit and evaluate the products and technologies presented with the understanding that Google was talking to a room full of developers, with more watching online – and told them what they wanted to know. The tech press isn’t the primary audience, or even the secondary one.
It likely isn’t arrogance that makes elements of the mainstream tech press criticise Google for not performing for them, it’s that they want Google to provide something neatly packaged for their audiences. Apple’s tuned-for-primetime keynote is a guaranteed hit-grabber – and hits mean revenue – and multitudes of live blogs and instant analysis were being cranked out for Google I/O yesterday too. But I suspect Google’s developer-tailored presentation didn’t resonate with your average punter with an interest – but not a job – in tech.
Google created an event that satisfied its developer audience – rather than a hit counters of the mainstream tech press, some of who need to remember to stick to judging the content not the performance.