On 10th May 2006, Larry Page and Sergei Brin from Google Inc. rolled out a whole new set of applications for Google search, many of which were much more in keeping with what people have come to expect from Google. With recent news that Amazon’s A9 search engine has opted to discontinue using Google’s search technology in favour of that from leading rival Microsoft, the press conference to global journalist was perhaps quite timely. Although there is nothing ground-breaking in what they presented (no Google Earth type applications, for instance), what was obvious is that Google are still finding unique and innovative ways of exploiting their 42% share of global internet searches.
For example, an upgrade to Google Desktop will be made available shortly – extending the range of “gadgets” available to the user. This certainly pushes Google further along in their obvious aim to replace the need for the standard operating system shipped with PCs. It is not hard to imagine a future where PCs are shipped with empty hard drives and that users simply download their OS of choice from the web. Certainly, Microsoft are awakening to that possibility.
Another application is Google Co-op where users can subscribe to free health information from a range of US-based health organisations. This further exemplifies Google’s desire to create provide information around the user as opposed to the other way around. Again, they are following the promise of the New Medium which endeavours to give the user what they want, when they want it – with the commercial interest of advertisers taking second place. Users can sign up to these services at www.google.com/coop/directory
. Google Notebook will allow you to save a portion of a website – like cutting out a newspaper clipping – and send it to friends via email. Again, the importance of the social network – as highlighted by the success of myspace.com and bibo.com – has not been lost on Google and this is undoubtedly another foray into that lucrative space.
Finally, there is Google Trends which is a formidable piece of programming. Available at www.google.com/trends
, it allows the user examine searches for market trends and get global feedback based on Google’s search index. When you consider that you are getting a snapshot of nearly half the searches in the world, this is surely manna to marketing professionals. The results can be quite frightening from an economic perspective. For example, if you put in “Technology” in the search box, the majority of searches are coming from New Delhi, Bagalore and Mumbai in India with the US way down the list. European countries don’t even register. Is this a reflection of complacency on our part in the developed world? Are we soon to be replaced as leaders in the Knowledge economy by eager and limber new economies? In terms of spirituality, as one would expect, the US figures highly when the search word is “Christianity”, whereas mainly Malaysia and Indonesia rate highest in the search for “Islam”. Google Trends merely holds the mirror up.
With Page predicting that 98% of what will exist in 10 years "has yet to be done, and we won't get there by looking at what other companies are doing", it is breathtaking to consider what those applications might be and what other companies might be doing as well.