Thursday, March 24, 2011

Google Launches a Magazine and Calls it a Book

Following on the heals of their well received "book," Twenty Things I Learned About Browsers and the Web, Google has launched a new "book" -- Think Quarterly.  This time, it seems more like a magazine, since it is being published  quarterly -- but who am I to quibble with how Google brands its products?

Here's how Google describes their new venture:
"At Google, we often think that speed is the forgotten 'killer application' – the ingredient that can differentiate winners from the rest. We know that the faster we deliver results, the more useful people find our service.
But in a world of accelerating change, we all need time to reflect. Think Quarterly is a breathing space in a busy world. It's a place to take time out and consider what's happening and why it matters.
Our first issue is dedicated to Data – amongst a morass of information, how can you find the magic metrics that will help transform your business? We hope that you find inspiration, insights, and more, in Think Quarterly." (source
Kind of interesting that just after Larry Page takes over again as CEO, Google says that sometimes there's a benefit to slowing down. I've flipped through it, and it seems well worthy of slow reflection and reading.   I also find the choice of replicating an offline print experience in a browser to be an odd choice from this company. I was a bit frustrated that Google was forcing me to use the full Flash version on my desktop. Even if I clicked on the mobile URL from my desktop computer, it would redirect me to the Flash version.  On my iPad, I was able to pull up the mobile version.  I actually found the mobile version to be an easier read in a browser, but then again that would make it harder to call it a book.  Kudos to Google for at least having the sense to do a mobile version.  I found the Flash version pretty to look at, but impossible to read without constantly having to click to zoom in. I seems a bit like it was made to look pretty, not be a quality user experience and actually readable.

This is sad because Twenty Things I Learned, is an elegant HTML 5 experience that allows you to read the book in your browser with ease.  It's lovely, enjoyable AND functional!  I can't understand why Google would allow an agency to do something as awkward and clunky as the execution of Think Quarterly.  This may be because Twenty Things I Learned was created for the Web, and Think Quarterly was created for print and then adapted for the Web.  Again a shame, because the mobile experience is a nice browser-based experience.

Here's a quick screen capture of my experience.  Try it for yourself and tell me what you think!

Thanks to Mashable and Fast Company for the head's up about this.

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