With the goal of complete and total domination in mind, internet Goliath Google has set its sights on nearly every form of interactive media imaginable. What started as a research project by Sergey Brin and Larry Page in ’96 later became the most widely used search engine in the world, and went on to expand into countless online markets. Let’s face it: Google does, well, everything. From e-mail to social networking, Google will stop at nothing to control each industry that they enter. Funded almost entirely by advertisers, the farther their reach, the more cash in the bank.
Google, however, is not immune to failure (despite what some may like to believe). Beyond the hype surrounding the announcements made at Google I/O 2010, speculation can be drawn as to their future viability. Will Google’s new products change the way we use the internet? Can new features further enhance already proven products and services? Will planned upgrades give subpar services new life? Let’s take a look.
Google TV: Blockbuster or Lackluster?
Today Google unveiled its most ambitious new service at the I/O conference — Google TV. Set to make its debut in fall of this year, Google TV will integrate the Android operating system into set-top cable and satellite boxes, Blu-ray players, and yes… television sets. Partnering with Sony and Logitech to create hardware, Google TV will be completely open source.
Of all the announcements made at I/O 2010, Google TV has the biggest chance of being either widely used, or completely abandoned. Although Google couldn’t be any more obvious in their attack on Apple TV, their approach is spot on. Instead of attempting to replace cable television with a web-based television service, Google is aiming to make a smooth integration. As an added benefit, Flash support is included — no longer will you be bothered with leaving your couch to play Farmville.
From what we’ve seen so far, Google’s plan of execution is flawless, but it will be hard to judge Google TV until it hits the stores. While it may seem genius now, it also has the potential to be the next WebTV, and we all remember how great that was.
Google Wave: Sink or Swim?
Announced at last year’s I/O conference, Google Wave was all the hype, and with good reason. Wave promised to bring together several aspects of the social internet and combine them in an all inclusive package: social networking, instant messaging, e-mail, etc. Best of all, the application would update in real-time, making online collaborations easier than ever before. If you were lucky enough to get invited to participate in the beta test, however, it’s likely that you were highly disappointed.
Yesterday, it was announced at I/O that Google Wave is now open to anyone who wishes to sign up, ending the closed beta. One of the biggest “problems” Wave had in beta was the fact that people were unable to collaborate and interact with anyone who wasn’t invited to try the service. Perhaps now that it is open to all, Wave will see a resurgence of life and increased usage. My guess, however, is that this won’t be the case. Google has recognized and acknowledged issues with Wave, and has made changes to improve the service, but many issues have yet to be addressed.
In order for Wave to rise in popularity, the interface will have to be cleaned up. Additionally, Google will have to restructure the application to make it more easily navigated. The changes that they have made in this department thus far will still leave the less web-savvy confused and frustrated. Much like Google TV, Wave will have to prove its worth.
Android: Seamless or Hopeless?
I/O 2010 treated Android users with a plethora of new features and upgrades. After boasting of the operating system’s use on over 60 devices and surpassing 100k new activations every day, Google got to the good stuff. With several enhancements to the speed, usability, and API, Froyo (Android 2.2) was announced. Not only will the phone come with performance boosts, it will also support… wait for it… Flash. Finally, right? Google will also be revamping the Android Marketplace to be more effective, allowing apps to be downloaded to your computer and synced to your Android.
Following the release of Android 2.2, we will see another update (presumably 3.0) towards the end of 2010 — Gingerbread. Gingerbread will fully support Google’s brand new open source video format WebM, which was also announced at I/O. Other than that, we don’t know much about what all Gingerbread will include, but it’s likely that we’ll find out a lot more in the near future.
The improvements made to Android can’t really be questioned, they will improve the phone’s capabilities and appeal tremendously. That is, if everything runs smoothly. We’ll go ahead and trust Google on that for now. Will Android devices now be set to kill off iPhones? Yes and no. Without a doubt, Android will see increased usage and continue to grow in popularity. While Google is now set to provide Apple with stronger competition than ever before, they will not be able to completely take away Apple’s market share. Apple users are loyal — I’ll leave it at that.
Chrome: Shine or Fade?
Throughout this year’s I/O conference, Google leaked some new info on one of their most prominent products — Google Chrome. Considering Google’s commitment and dedication to HTML5, it should come as no surprise that Chrome will continue to be updated to provide seamless HTML5 support.
In more exciting news, Google gave us a preview of the all new Chrome Web Store. With no specific launch date, Google informed attendants that the Chrome Web Store will be available “later this year.” The store will include various Google apps for services like G-mail, Docs, and Wave into Chrome.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I think the Chrome Web Store is completely awesome in nearly every regard — but it does have the potential to fail. For one, we may see developers start to pull (previously free) Chrome extensions in favor of paid apps that will line their pocket. Really, I could do without some of the extensions I already have, and would be unwilling to pay for them. For some, though, specific extensions are a necessary. If this situation occurs, they will end up paying for something that really should be free.
Another downside to the web store is the fact that it’s exclusive to Chrome. While I, personally, enjoy Chrome — others don’t. If various web applications exclusive to the Chrome Web Store become a neccessity, users of Firefox and other browsers may be forced to make the switch despite personal preference. Again, we’ll see what happens.
The Future Looks Bright
While the new products, features, and upgrades that Google has announced all look promising, they may fail in execution. Only time will tell which scenarios will play out. In any case, the future of web-based technology promises awesome innovations for devout tech junkies. Regardless of whether Google’s new products and services succeed or flop, we all win in the end. New, innovative technology brings about increased competition and further innovation. Increased competition results in better features, and new products at lower prices. As long as companies like Google are experimenting with cutting edge technology, the cycle will continue.
Everything else aside, it warms my nerdy little heart to hear about genuinely cool technology that is set to debut in the near future. With all of the drama about lost iPhones and Facebook privacy breaches, Google’s latest developments are refreshing, to say the least.
Considering the recent announcements at I/O 2010, what do you think the future holds for Wave, Android, and Chrome? What about Google TV? Win or fail?