I'm reading this Googlemania article in the NYT when I ran across this quote:
It is unlikely that the company will turn its attention to Microsoft's traditional desktop computing franchise. Instead, the two companies will probably compete directly over new and immature markets.
One possible example is what has been described by a Google employee as a favorite idea of Larry Page, a co-founder: a Google "phone" - a branded consumer appliance that would make it possible to get Google search results and ads almost anywhere. Such a product would extend the company's search service far beyond the desktop computing market. The idea, like much of what the company is planning, is still secret.
Umm. Where do I start?
First, Google does have WAP and Palm versions (and has for quite a number of years now) for actual phones, so this favorite idea has sorta actually already happened. And the chances that Google will suddenly decide launch its own hardware or co-brand someone else's seems very slim to me.
But what this does bring up is what are Google's Mobile plans? Their existing "wireless" versions (found here) are definitely in the need for an upgrade. They're made for small screens using black and white images and really need an overhaul to take advantage of higher connectivity speeds with more data per page and WAP 2.0 (XHTML-MP) for nicer looking pages. I can understand if Google isn't exactly falling over themselves to get to the mobile market. It's not a cash cow at the moment like their traditional web search is, but the fact is that more and more people are trying to use their mobile phones to find information while out and about, and Google is the obvious place for them to go to find it.
That said, there's a lot of work to do to make their search relevant to mobile users: Just getting regular internet results and presenting them on a small screen doesn't cut it. And this is where it gets interesting. In my mind, in order for Google to really impact the mobile world, they need to go from providing search results which point to other sites, to being an aggregator of sorts. Organizing web information that's relevant to the mobile user and presenting it in a clean and quick to access mobile interface is key. Just the fact that someone is mobile adds a lot of context to the results in and of itself, not to mention time of day, location and other personal information. I'm sure someone, somewhere deep inside the Googleplex is working on this, but I just wonder when it'll hit the light of day?
Anyways, that was just a thought on reading that article. I'd really rather not say anything to add to the Googlemania actually. It *really* pisses me off this whole "don't be evil" bullshit that Google is presenting to everyone and that the press are repeating ad-nauseum. I wrote about Google's complete lack of ethics in this article and this one last October. Not only did they cancel their secretive Adsense program for someone who was making thousands of dollars a month in revenue without just cause or explanation, but the day after I wrote about it on this weblog, Google changed their contract to include a gag clause preventing anyone who uses Adsense to talk about it publicly. This is contemptuous to say the least.
I lost all respect for Google when that happened. To now hear the founders religiously pine about not being evil is insulting and frustrating because so many newspapers out there just blindly repeat the nonsense without so much as looking into whether it's the truth or not.
So to me, Google is part of daily life still - I use it and see how many sites it refers to my weblog daily, but when Yahoo and Microsoft eat their lunch, I definitely won't be one crying for their loss.