Take the two massive barges it purchased, based in Portland, Maine and Stockton, California. That’s right, barges. Four-story floating structures made of more than sixty white and grey shipping containers stacked together in an intricate design with sails made to look like fish fins.
The barges were one of the many mysteries that Google originally denied involvement with. But last October the press began to speculate, and Google finally admitted that yes, it did own them. What exactly they were going to be used for was still a mystery. All Google would say was they would become a place where people could interact with technology. That doesn’t narrow down things a whole lot, and we may now never know what the original conceptual purpose for the barges was destined to ultimately be.
With all the build-up and mystery behind the barges, at least one of them is coming to an anticlimactic finish to what could have been a great new experiential advertising campaign, showroom and educational tool. The fate of barge number one has been sealed with a reported sale to a shipping company who will be dismantling it for scrap metal.
Google isn’t saying why it has decided to scrap the barge. Speculation is that issues with the barge was causing delays to showcase new Google technology like Google Glass. There is no word on what will happen with Google barge number two in Stockton, but with the one in Maine now headed to the scrap heap, the outlook for a long a fruitful life at the docks doesn’t look good.
One also has to wonder if Google’s marketing team simply blew the budget? They reportedly have $9 million to spend on outdoor (which is where we assume the barge spend were slated), but with an estimated value of $4 million per barge, plus $400,000 in property taxes and the $10,000 monthly docking fee, costs must have been racking up.
The question is whether Google is finally starting to move away from its well-known, flamboyant spending practices in favor of some more cost effective marketing, or shall we just prepare ourselves for the next surprise?