No, I’m not referring to Google +, or Google+ (without the space), or Google Plus. That was launched after I was already deep in thought over an entirely different Google initiative.
If you are keeping score at home, the one I’m referring to is, I believe, Google Side Initiative #76,275. I had my eye on it a few months ago while researching a similar initiative being considered by a client. Then, this past weekend, I came across an article about 20 paragraphs long announcing that the GOOG had terminated its online health records project. Tucked into the final paragraph was a near-throw-away sentence saying Google had also terminated its PowerMeter initiative.
Just like annuities yesterday, I bet you hadn’t heard of this one either.
A couple of years ago, the folks at Google – in their never-ending search (pun intended) for the answer to “what other data can we play with?” – came up with a way for homeowners to monitor their electricity usage IN REAL TIME. The service, known as PowerMeter (note to future naming consultants: take two words, remove the space, and capitalize the first letter of each), required access to someone else’s meter. In most cases, that meant your local utility.
In most cases, that meant your local utility told Google to piss off.
So Google couldn’t build much of a channel to get access to a broad number of prospects. But even when it got a utility to partner up, consumer uptake was negligible. And so, initiative #76,275 became the 76,232nd to fall into the “no good” pile.
Just like annuities, an economist like our man from yesterday, Robert Thaler, might bemoan how consumers have messed up again – don’t they realize this is the perfect “green” product? Who wouldn’t want to monitor their electricity usage IN REAL TIME? Maybe he has a “government solution” for this one too.
In the meantime, despite all the issues with finding partners and accessing data streams and such, here is what I think Google might be finding out, slowly but surely:
We don’t want to monitor our OWN data. We want to monitor EVERYONE ELSE’S.
Google PowerMeter would have been a better service if it let us monitor our NEIGHBOR’s energy usage IN REAL TIME. And, to that end, Google Health would have been great if we could have monitored OTHER PEOPLE’s medical history.