Google has been the Golden City of Silicon Valley and indeed the whole world wide web for the past several years. The savvy start-up that grew from a garage in Menlo Park to one of the biggest companies in the world in less than a decade is not only a business wunderkind, but a cultural icon whose name has become a verb for finding information on the Internet. Yet as Google’s rise to fame attests, the Internet is a fast and fickle place where a good new idea can change everything.
In a recent interview with Mad Money host Jim Cramer, Google CEO Eric Schmidt said that Google can avoid the flat-line in growth that eventually plagued it’s high tech giant predecessors IBM & Microsoft. Google will accomplish this, Schmidt says, through increasingly targeted advertising, breaking into new businesses and keeping to the mantra of not being “evil.”
Is this a realistic forecast? Can its very size and success be a detriment to Google’s innovation? Can it really conquer new markets? Though the company’s stock has consistently outperformed expectations and grew an impressive 26% last quarter, there are some tell-tale signs that Google’s empire is not immune to the forces of time or economics.
Innovation by Acquisition: By Schmidt’s own admission, Google will need to innovate at a high rate to remain competitive. The company has released several products in the last few years including Gmail, Google Earth, Google Docs (which I am using to type this article), Google Calendar, Knol, and most recently its web browser Chrome. But much, if not the bulk, of the company’s innovation has been generated through acquisitions. While many of the purchases have been a big boon for Google, i.e. DoubleClick is estimated to have brought in $90 million dollars for Google last year, several of the innovative companies acquired have mysteriously entered the ever widening Google black hole. Jaiku, a twitter-like micro-blogging company was purchased in October of 2007 and is still closed to new users. GrandCentral a site the allows you integrate all your phone numbers and voicemail boxes into one account, accessible from the web, had a markedly similar fate. Even Blogger, once the king of blogs, has withered from lack of development and upgrading since being acquired. It now seems doomed to forever live in the shadow of it’s successors Wordpress and Movable Type.
A quick look at this comprehensive list of Google’s acquisitions reveals many great ideas that either are dead in the black hole, being developed by Google, or in use but just not being promoted. It’s hard to say which, but considering how old some of these acquisitions are and how quickly the Internet world moves, even in the best case scenario of “development” Google is proving it simply hasn’t been able integrate and develop it’s acquisitions quickly enough.
For all those out there wetting their pants for Google’s new Linux-based phone operating system, Android will be unveiled tomorrow to much hoopla. And while delay after delay has done some damage to the egos of salivating Googlephiles, anticipation is still high.
For one thing, nobody likes a monopoly. The iPhone has become the standard when it comes to hip smart phones which for some reeks of domination. The hope is that the Android mobile phone operating system will do some damage to take down the iPhone juggernaut. Although many expect there to be an assortment of bugs since it’s the first release (as well as having choppy graphics), it’s still an attractive alternative for users who don’t want an iPhone or are sick of Windows Mobile (or anything Microsoft).
Secondly, the operating system is based on Linux. Many PC users have been switching to Linux due to problems with the Vista OS. Linux has it’s own culture about it that’s more dedicated than Apple users. They’re fiercely proud of it, it’s free, and anyone can alter it. The idea of a Linux-based mobile phone operating system will be irresistible to any Linux fan.
Google Android has one of the best features designed for Google maps. Makes sense, doesn’t it? But while the newly released Android is getting all the hype in the news as of late, it seems Apple isn’t going to let Google get away with that title just yet. With the software 2.2 update, the iPhone will now support Google Street View as well as mass transit directions. With this feature, people will be able to view their actual surroundings so they can get a better sense of where they need to go. The mass transit feature is especially helpful for those who commute on a daily basis and need to catch those buses on time.
It wasn’t too long ago that a map was the confused traveler’s staple — you’d stare at it for what seemed like hours, dimly aware of your orientation or distances, unable to fold it back into it’s designed shape.
December 22 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2009 Rating: 5 Hot
The Internet is abuzz with people theorizing that a new Google phone from T-Mobile, the G2, will make an appearance late January on the world market. If true (which it hopefully isn't) this would mean a whole three months passed before a better phone from the same maker breaking the previous record made by the iPhone which stood at nine months.
Although others say it won't appear until April, the idea that a new phone may just be around the corner has got quite a few people heated especially when it "is expected to have a 5-megapixel autofocus camera, VGA camera for video calls, a full touch screen, and Wi-Fi connectivity." Three months later and already all those extras?
There's a lot going in to play here. For instance, many thought the T-Mobile G1 was rushed through production even though there was over a half a year of delay in production. That being said, one might consider a January release as a sign that the first phone pushed onto consumers wasn't the right phone but a rush-job, the rumored one being the phone they should have released first.
If Google wants to keep all the goodwill and support they have from those in the online community who are trying to support their Open-Source venture into the market, they also need to appeal to the consumers buying their Android-powered phones. If they're smart, they will answer these rumors and hopefully give us a release date somewhere later next year.
Well, they’re not exactly walking amongst us yet, but I wanted
to further highlight a video that Jack
linked to yesterday. The progress in robotic ambulation is
quite remarkable as we’ve seen with Asimo’s ability to
climb stairs and walk in a perfect circle as
Jason alluded to in his recent future fiction piece. The
progress towards sophisticated androids is still in its early phase
but will only accelerate from here.
October 28 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2008 Rating: 2
You’ve heard it time and again, “good things come to those who wait.” But you’ve also heard “the early bird gets the worm.” Who are you supposed to listen to? If it involves the Google Android smartphone, you probably should have waited.
“T-Mobile currently sells the G1 for $179.99 with a two-year contract, but Wal-Mart will offer the device for $148.88 to new customers or current subscribers who are eligible for an upgrade.” -Bonnie Cha, CNET
That’s right, Google’s Android which came out about a week ago, can already be found for about $30 cheaper. Jump the gun? Everyone did. But don’t let this get you down, if Android behaves a lot like the iPhone, a newer and better generation of Android will be out by next summer (and you’ll have a whole new reason to kick yourself).
It really just comes down to the battle between patience and the desire to be cutting-edge. Grab it early and you’ll be sorry, grab it too late and you’ll be a dinosaur.
December 01 2008 / by John Heylin
Category: Gadgets Year: 2010 Rating: 2
The Linux community could be described as a group of people across the globe with the best of intentions, but even within the Linux community there are still splits and divisions.
While the idea is to create community-based software that is free to everyone, getting quality software can be hard since instead of working on one program which can, let's say, edit video, there are multiple programs out there to perform this function. This has always surprised me about the Linux community. I always figured there would be just one program developers would work on to make the best instead of wasting their resources by working on multiple programs that perform the same function.
Why are there tons of media players when there should just be one? Why are there various operating systems when there should be just one? Even Ubuntu has multiple off-shoots which is understandable since people want to gear their computer towards gaming or speed specifically. But a media player?
But now it seems we might be seeing one platform dominating a field where previously there had been over 50 varieties.
Android has made Linux users happy with their Open Source Operating System. You can tell by looking through many of the different forums or sites Linux users use. Just about anytime you see a reference to a mobile phone operating system, Android is referenced in spades. A team of developers recently put the Linux kernal onto the iPhone. The reaction? People couldn't wait to try and put Android onto the iPhone. And while Apple has tried its best to keep the iPhone from being re-programmed, it may prove futile in the end.
The only hope Apple has now of avoiding the loss of its operating system (and becoming only a hardware manufacturer) is if it too opens up its programming to users and generates support from the community. As of now the iPhone is a novelty that, once Android is able to replicate or exceed, will eventually wear off. Then again, it may already be too late for Apple.