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Meet Google's human search engine for innovation

Jon Brodkin | March 1, 2011
As developer advocate at Google, Don Dodge treks across the country looking for innovative startups that Google can help make successful.

Dodge himself traded in his Microsoft products for Google ones when he switched employers. He hasn't hopped on the tablet bandwagon, saying tablets are for "consumption, not for creation." But he has an Android phone and does all of his computing on a prototype Chrome OS notebook, known by its code name Cr-48, and a MacBook Pro.

All Web, all the time

But even on his Apple computer, Dodge is all Web.

"I don't have any desktop software on my laptop. None," Dodge says. Whether using Chrome OS or his MacBook, Dodge does his work on Gmail and Google Docs, he says. "I think there's a segment of the market that's ready to go completely Web, and I'm in that segment," he says.

The next wave of laptops may simply lack a Windows-like operating system, Dodge contends.

"I think we're not too far away from the day where your phone will be your computer. You'll walk into your office, take your phone out and plug it into a docking station, with a big flat screen and a keyboard. You decide which applications you want resident on the phone and which ones you want in the cloud and which data you want on the phone or in the cloud, or replicated between the two.

"There's a lot to do" before we get to that point, and Dodge's work with startups could help accelerate the move to Web-based computing.

Dodge's picks

The man at Google who called Dodge after he was laid off by Microsoft was Vice President Vic Gundotra, who had also left Microsoft to join Google. Dodge today reports to Michael Winton, Google's director of developer relations, and occasionally runs in higher circles. For example, Dodge is doing a special project for CEO Eric Schmidt in which he's bringing venture capitalists to Google's campus to develop a relationship with the people "that fund the companies we want to partner with, or that we want to acquire or invest in," Dodge says.

At DEMO, Dodge said he was intrigued by startups called Nimble and FaceCake. Dodge was impressed by how Nimble brings social technology to customer relationship management, while FaceCake's Swivel product uses a "virtual mirror" letting shoppers view themselves in clothes without actually taking anything off or putting anything on.

The fashion application "is kind of funky, probably not anything Google is interested in," Dodge says. But the technology behind the application could be used by Google for other applications. "The technology itself was pretty remarkable."


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