At first glance, Google might seem like it’s focusing less on search and more on trying to find the next big thing by throwing money at a wide variety of unrelated new business ventures, including robotics, Google Glass, autonomous cars, home delivery, Web TV, high speed fiber networks, and many more. However, thinking they are unrelated would not be true at all. Instead, Google has been very clever in strategically picking new areas that all have something in common: They are all tied to the cloud and collecting data, information, and insights about how we live, work, and play, and then turning that data, information, and insights into new products and services that can help us navigate the world better.
In other words, the real value for Google is in the backend—in the data. By knowing what you’re using, how you’re using it, what you’re doing with it, when you’re using it, and where you’re using it, Google is generating a goldmine of information, and then using that information to both generate revenue for its advertisers with increasingly personalized ads, and using what they learn to create the next “must have” item. Here are just a few examples.
Let’s start with Google Glass, which is Google’s first wearable technology and is tied to their dynamic information repository in the cloud. How we use it, what we use it for, and what we see and record all goes to the cloud. Will we all be wearing Google Glasses? The answer is no, but many will be using Google Glass for a lot of specialized functions. In fact, surgeons are already using Google Glasses so they don’t have to take their eyes off the patient. They can see, on the little screen in the lens, the patient’s heart rate, pulse, temperature, blood pressure, and all the vitals. And there are a wide variety of other professions that will be using them as well.
Remember, you can make things smaller, and the size of the earpiece and other components are going to continue to shrink, allowing Google Glass to look more and more like regular glasses. In fact, Ray-Ban sunglasses maker Luxottica recently announced that it has finalized a strategic partnership with Google over its Glass eyewear that could pave the way for a new look and market in smart glasses.
YouTube is another strategic part of Google, and they’re continuing to redefine television and the viewing experience by creating an ever-increasing number of channels and live streaming events—some that even incorporate Google Glass. For example, the Sacramento Kings basketball team has recently started to wear Google Glass, giving the audience live streaming from them so viewers can see what the players see when they go up for a dunk, what the referees see, and what the cheerleaders see.
This started with the Sacramento Kings, but you can clearly see that you’re going to get a bird’s-eye view (and a very personalized view) of the action in many more arenas, thanks to more and more players in more and more sports using Google Glass-type wearable devices. I expect this to quickly spread to a wide variety of events, from plays to rock concerts.
Speaking of TV, another related area Google has now entered is with their new product Chromecast, which is basically a $35 bridge that beams web video to your TV screen. One of the reasons I believe Google wanted to get into this is because Apple’s biggest seller in 2013 was Apple TV. So, of course, Google wants to get in on that. But it’s not just selling Chromecast. That’s just the front end, like Google Glass is the front end that you get to use. Google is more interested in knowing your viewing habits and how they can turn those insights into better ads for their advertisers as well as continue to shape the future of TV.
All of this takes fast networks, so it should be no surprise that Google launched Fiber Boost, which is bringing gigabyte Internet service to cities. So far, Austin, Texas; Provo, Utah; Los Angeles, California; and Louisville, Kentucky, among others, have this service. I’m sure you would like your city on the list, because it would be great to have a blazingly-fast Internet connection. What does Google get by offering this? Faster connections lay the foundation for a new level of online products and services. With faster speeds, it would make sense for Google to introduce a 3D web browser.
In all, Google is getting to know how we all live, work, and play better and better every day, and using that knowledge to come up with new ways to do even more cool things. In Part 2 of this look at Google, we’ll explore some other offerings designed to increase Google’s knowledge base and increasingly intelligent search capabilities.