Google Fiber is probably one of the biggest and best ideas to come out of Google's wheelhouse in a long time. The problem, as anybody who watched it all go down will tell you, was in the execution. Offering a revolution in broadband internet service was an amazing idea, and sparked huge change in the industry despite the idea crashing to the ground headfirst just as it began to gain traction. There are a number of reasons that Google Fiber failed, and only the roots of these issues come from the idea itself, rather than the way that Google went about propagating and implementing the service.
On the idea side, Google's people probably knew going into things that they would see a lot of competition, and that the rollout would be difficult and expensive. They also probably knew that they would see serious regulatory opposition, if the big companies' lobbyists could pull it off. These challenges were part and parcel of the whole ordeal from the beginning, but they ended up swelling out of control when Google handled the rollout in what have been the worst way possible.
Normally, when you're doing something revolutionary or putting a brand new product on the market, it's best to toe the waters and be easy about it. This was not the case with Google Fiber, however; in fact, a slow, cautious rollout may well have been the service's undoing. It gave competition time to get their act together, and kept Google from reaching markets full of potential customers who could have been Fiber's saving grace. The internet was filled with people clamoring to see Fiber in their area, from coast to coast. Google may have had to dig deep in their coffers to do it, but if anybody would have been able to put out a service like Fiber nationwide and do it quick, it probably would have been Google. Rolling out the service on a limited basis and expanding slowly saved Google some capital, but that might have been the biggest nail in Fiber's coffin.
Part of the reason that Google was able to roll out Fiber quickly and effectively once they had decided to do so in a given market was their partnerships with the owners of broadband infrastructure in these areas. Not only did Google not play their cards right in acquiring these partnerships, they made use of existing infrastructure in some areas in a way that got them sued by those who either owned the infrastructure or had existing deals to use it. Google's attempts at transitioning to wireless broadband were, of course, largely fruitless; a pity, that, since such a technology would have been a huge shift for the industry.
Google's slow rollout enabled the local competition to seriously step their game up in response. Providers in some markets where Google didn't even plan to come out or hadn't come out yet joined in on the fun in some cases, dropping prices, becoming more user-friendly, and increasing speeds and capacity just like everybody else. If Google had hit the scene all at once, they may have had a chance to generate a good customer base before this happened, but as it stands, the current iteration of Google Fiber stands as a testament to what could have been. Perhaps later on, Google can recoup their efforts with Fiber, and hit more markets faster and more aggressively. Before they can do that, thanks to how they ran things this time around, they will have to significantly revamp their product in order to have any hope of upending the market in the state that it's currently in.