Google Shifting Gears: From Virtual to the Physical World
Google, which started as a research project to provide relevant search information to users, has grown manifold to evolve into one of the largest technology Companies on the planet, expanding its foothold in diverse domains as they go along. However, Google’s mission has remained constant over this evolution, i.e. to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful. This information based model has opened doors to a wealth of user information ranging from search data to information consumption. Here’s a look at how over the years it has been ingrained into our virtual lives.
These developments have undoubtedly simplified many aspects of our lives, at the same time have provided accessibility to a host of key user data points which is today at the disposal of marketers and analysts. Advertising is a significant revenue source for the company, amounting to 90% of the sum. The estimated revenue from advertising stands at about $20 billion/year which is more than the primetime revenues of CBS, ABC, NBS and FOX combined.
One of the recent significant developments by Google has been the acquisition of Nest Labs in January 2014-which is into home automation products like thermostats and smoke alarms. The rationale behind the acquisition was reportedly to enhance Google’s suite of products and services to encompass innovative smart home solutions which are more useful, intuitive and reachable. To further strengthen its capabilities in the smart home market, it went on to acquire Dropcam, which manufactures Web connected cameras, the same year. This can prove to be a major leap for Google in terms its reach into the physical world and the IoT market segment.
After about a year of Dropcam’s acquisition, Google has recently launched NestCam, a device that monitors and tracks movement in user’s home and alerts them via a smartphone app in case of any suspicious activity. It has advanced image resolution, inbuilt microphone and speakers, enhanced night vision and it also comes with a cloud storage service to access footage for the last 30 days at a fee of $30/month.
The value offered by such a product is definitely undeniable, however with this Google will also have access to what goes on inside homes, making them privy to personal information. When devices like ceiling fans, washing machines and car sensors, are connected with the ‘Work with Nest Integration’ system, it would allow those devices to share personal data with Google (the amount of which can controlled by users). On connecting the dots, one will realize that this will allow Google to basically know everything about a person, including what they search, places they visit, who they connect with often, their preferred house temperature, personal interests and much more.
Google Driverless cars processes data from sensors and maps to determine its location, surrounding objects and has predictive software to determine the actions taken by objects. The prototype is ready and is getting a lot of attention from the media, but the launch is expected only somewhere around 2020.
Google also recently announced a new operating system for IoT called Brillo which aims solve the fragmentation issue with IoT devices. It has partnered with Nest, Android and others to enable seamless connection across devices.
There are a couple of other interesting projects from Google lined up in 2015, which present a diverse array of future possibilities. It includes the likes of ‘Google For Work’ program as Google plans to enter the enterprise cloud market, expansion of Google Fiber to more cities, testing the waters of the wearable market, investments in space exploration technologies, to bringing internet access to developing and rural regions of the world which also supports its core business i.e. data driven advertising.
Google’s plan seems to be to extend its reach by expanding their services from the virtual world, to the physical one. This transition is set to be marked by a lot of positive and negative repercussions. However, only time will tell how successful these technologies will be in getting entrenched in our lives and the impact it will have in shaping our future. Well, it’s something to ponder upon. What are your thoughts?
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