Steve Jobs was notorious for channeling all of Apple’s efforts into one product at time. In 2007, Apple had to issue a press release explaining that it was delaying the release of OS X Leopard to finish making the iPhone.
Google is on the opposite end of the spectrum. It’s always releasing new products, and many never see commercial success. In a recent interview, Google CEO Larry Page shared how Jobs used to tell him that Google was “doing too much” stuff at once, and why he didn’t listen.
In a fireside chat with billionaire investor Vinod Khosla, Larry Page and Google co-founder Sergey Brin talking about the company’s history, current work, and future plans for technology like self-driving cars and its other moonshot projects under Google X.
A particularly interesting part of the interview happens around the 25 minute mark. When asked how Google focuses on projects, Page said that “ideally, the company would scale the number of things it does with the number of people, kind of in a linear fashion.” He said that having 30,000 employees only working on one thing is “not very exciting” for them.
In what was most likely a reference to Apple, Page said that it’s “kind of stupid if you have this big company, and you can only do, like, five things.” He said he would debate with Jobs about the issue, who said “you guys are doing too much stuff.”
Google is a company that likes to experiment, as evidenced by Glass, self-driving cars, etc. Apple also experiments, but the different is that it does so in secret behind closed doors.
With regards to mixing health with wearables and software, Brin said that it’s difficult to do in the U.S. right now. “Health is so heavily regulated,” he said. “It’s just a painful business to be in.” Apple’s iWatch is expected to have health-tracking features that work with its HealthKit platform for third-party developers.