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Google's next act: Diversify and conquer

Serdar Yegulalp | May 21, 2013
Center stage at this year's Google I/O was a company honing its vision for a future beyond search

On the move with Google GlassNo one questions how crucial mobile technology is to Google's overall vision. The bigger question is what that mobile strategy will consist of, aside from further leveraging Android as a driver for search.

WordStream's Pan believes Google's plan for mobile can be summed up as follows: "To become the top-of-mind brand for users whenever they need to find a solution to their problem. Need to go somewhere? Google Maps. Want new music? The Google Play store. Crave Chinese food? Google it on Chrome, and Google+ Local will give you the nearest results."

Searchable.co.uk's Grunwerg feels the same way -- that Google's vision is to become "the artificial intelligence that can help people in their everyday lives." He admitted such a total vision was "probably five to 10 years in the making, but in order to offer a more personalized service, Google knows the mobile strategy is key."

Which brings us to the one forthcoming part of the mobile strategy that everyone is wondering about: Google Glass. The buzz over Glass splits into two camps -- those who think it's revolutionary, and those who think it's overrated. But few disagree that it will be a major attention-getter for Google.

Pan believes Glass has the potential to follow Apple's iPod success story, but at the same time constitutes a giant wild card. "When Apple created the iPod, it had features users didn't know they wanted -- a simpler user interface. The same was true with iPhones and iPads -- touch display screens. Glass is one of those projects, but it's too early to tell if a wired lifestyle is what we want," Pan says.

Google's other goal with Glass, in his purview, is to harvest information from the real world and index it for search. "Once people document their whole lives on Glass, Google may have access to search your history archive for moments of your life," Pan says. This doesn't bode well for those who already have privacy worries about Google, he admits.

Politis sees Glass as "the hedge for the longer-term play" toward wearable computing in one form or another. "[It's] the same idea as the Chromebook Pixel. They're prototypes, proofs of concept built by Google to show the world what is possible. Glass isn't a move to [make Google] a hardware company, but a way to integrate all [its] existing products [Google+, Drive, and so on] and be the leading force in wearable computing."

Grunwerg thinks of Glass as potentially momentous as the early home PC or telephone. "It's the first big step toward virtual reality becoming a part of everyday lives, and who knows how this could transform the video games market," Grunwerg says. He was also sure, though, that even Google didn't fully understand its own product's potential -- and perhaps the developers who have been granted early access to the product will help suss it out.

 

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