Thursday, December 15, 2005
Next time you’re at the airport, scan the waiting area and see what people are doing. You’ll be shocked by the number who are doing absolutely nothing -- other than staring glassy-eyed at other people who are doing absolutely nothing. Naturally, these people had rushed in a mad frenzy an hour prior in order to get to the airport on time, only to sit and stare.
This observation is what spawned Google Space. We thought it would be useful to set up an area to give travellers unfettered Internet access so they might make use of that otherwise wasted time. Plus Googlers would get to talk to Google users, and hear what they like and don’t like about our products. Kind of like Google Labs, but with face to face feedback. Google Labs goes material.
We've been testing this concept for nearly a month at Heathrow Airport in London.
The response has thus far been enlightening and unexpected. Enlightening in that we’ve been learning tons about how to make our products more useful. Unexpected in the ways that people are using Google. One sales guy, David MacDonald, emailed this to the entire UK office:
“Yesterday whilst on the Google Space stand at Heathrow T1 I was approached by somebody who asked me if I worked for Google, as soon as I confirmed he smiled. He went on to explain that he had been in Pakistan as part of an International Disaster Response Team to help in the aftermath of the recent earthquake. They had been desperate to use what resources / maps they could find and that Google had been invaluable in helping. It turned out they had used Google Earth to trace the geography of the landscape, locate villages and roads.This may be the best part of doing experimental projects. You think you’re onto a good idea, but then something unexpected like this makes it even better.
He was so happy to see me and to show his appreciation, I really felt humbled and proud.”
If people find Google Space useful, we might do this in other areas, or perhaps in other airports. Who knows? Let us know where you waste time – and you might see us there.