Google Labs a big success story for search giant

Google Labs - hugely important to Google
Google Labs - hugely important to search giant

The success of Google Labs – the public experimental playground for Google's latest applications – is down to a mixture of peer pressure and public feedback, according to product manager Aparna Chennapragada.

Speaking to TechRadar, Chennapragada explained the process behind Labs, which has been the launching ground for some of the biggest hits for Google, including Google Alerts, Google Reader, Google Suggest and Google Maps.

"Labs is actually intentionally a playground," said Chennapragada who is soon leaving to work on video search within the company. "That was the way we designed it.

"A normal idea can take three years to get to the public, but with Labs we can get them out early – even if they are a little rough around the edges, and by getting them out early we can start to get user input that can help to shape the product."


Although the public's input is vital to each project, before it arrives on Labs, every idea goes through a stringent peer review process within Google.

"Engineers are encouraged to take their ideas as close to a prototype as they can and it is then shared among the teams to try," she added

"We call this dogfooding – it happens not only for labs products but other products as well – and the barrage of criticism that arrives from the moment it goes out is immensely useful…in retrospect!"

Much of the features applications released through Google Labs comes from the famed '20 per cent' time offered by Google to its engineers, where people are encouraged to work on their own products for one day a week .

Own devices

Chennapragada told TechRadar that the products are not monitored, with even a small success rate still bringing huge dividends for the company.

"The 20 per cent products are not monitored. It's nice to go away and see if an idea works, and actually the hit rate – even if it's one per cent of products – is pretty good.

"It's a nice experimental process that sometimes provides something concrete or sometimes something that becomes a main product if it proves it merits it."

Patrick Goss

Patrick Goss is the ex-Editor in Chief of TechRadar. Patrick was a passionate and experienced journalist, and he has been lucky enough to work on some of the finest online properties on the planet, building audiences everywhere and establishing himself at the forefront of digital content.  After a long stint as the boss at TechRadar, Patrick has now moved on to a role with Apple, where he is the Managing Editor for the App Store in the UK.