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Cloud Native/NFV

Google Practical Joke Goes Horribly Wrong

If Google wants to crack the enterprise market, it has to grow up.

As an April Fools' prank, Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) added a "mic drop" button to Gmail, next to the "send" button. Clicking that button would mute all further emails in the thread, and send an animated GIF of a minion doing a mic drop.

Cute, huh? Not so much. The prank resulted in complaints. Because here in the 21st century, people actually use email for serious business, like work.

Gmail user Allan Pashby says mic drop put his job at risk:

I am a writer and had a deadline to meet. I sent my articles to my boss and never heard back from her. I inadvertently sent the email using the "Mic Drop" send button. There were corrections that needed to be made on my articles and I never received her replies. My boss took offense to the Mic Drop animation and assumed that I didn't reply to her because I thought her input was petty (hence the Mic Drop). I just woke up to a very angry voicemail from her which is how I found out about this "hilarious" prank.

The feature generated a long thread of complaints on a Gmail product forum.

Google disabled the feature Friday morning. "Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. 😟 Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs."

I'm sure Allan Pashby is glad to hear that Google feels it was its own victim. And nothing says "sincere apology from a grownup" like a frowny emoji.

The prank by Google comes as it's making a big investment in winning enterprise business, after years of results that have been at best mixed. (See Google: 'Dead Serious' About Enterprise Cloud.)


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Recently, even Google Apps -- which includes a version of Gmail for business, and has been an unusual success story for Google in the workplace -- is losing ground to Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) Office 365.

A Google spokesperson noted that the prank was not included in its Google Apps Gmail implementation. That's important, and a relief to Google Apps users, but it's not enough.

If Google wants to be taken seriously for business, it needs to act like a company that's run by serious grownups. Businesses don't like to feel like their results are at risk because somebody at Google wanted a good giggle.

— Mitch Wagner, Follow me on TwitterVisit my LinkedIn profile, West Coast Bureau Chief, Light Reading

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kq4ym 4/11/2016 | 12:55:12 PM
Re: Blinky eye emoji One wonders how many folks are involved in the Google projects. Enough to prevent stuff like this happening, or a one or two man team just green lights the idea? Or maybe it was an excellent PR prank to get load of press, even if negative? 
Michelle 4/11/2016 | 2:47:57 PM
Re: Blinky eye emoji I certainly wonder how many people are working on the pranks! It seems like the UX team wasn't consulted before the gag went live. Too bad...
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