Google's Transition From Search To Tech Company

Google is a technology company. This doesn't mean it will abandon search. But after 20 years in technology and marketing, I know the signs and can say unequivocally that the company has crossed over. It reminds me a little of Microsoft's climb to the top, complete with regulatory issues and privacy concerns.

The attention, this week anyway, turns toward applications, specifically those built on Android. And while those applications could integrate with search, the technology is the star of the show. The biggest difference between Google's and Microsoft's climb, as we all know, Bill Gates built Microsoft's empire on technology, rather than search. The Redmond, Wash., company also advocates proprietary instead of open source applications.

Applications that move Google from search to technology will continue to put the company in situations where it will have to either defend actions or apologize for programming glitches. Last week's mess up around the software error that caused Google to unwittingly collect unsecure wireless data will haunt the Mountain view, Calif., company for years. A sign Google discussed this with the German government prior to posting the blog comes from an Associated Press article. Several daysbefore Google admitted to the glitch, the German government ordered "wireless passwords for all" to lockdown information. I'm not defending Google, but after going on a ride-along in the early 2000s with one of the companies that capture location-based data for maps, I could see the mound of raw data-bits and bytes-the system collects.

Some just want Google to concentrate on improving search results. Search engine optimization expert founder Steve Gerencser, says "I'd be happier if they actually got search perfect." He's referring to search results in a tab down the left rail that provides an option to select "more shopping" or "less shopping" sites. It doesn't always serve up the correct information, he says.

Aside from search and this morning's announcement that Google made a $68 million bid to acquire Global IP Solutions Holding, an Internet voice and video company, the company confirmed the deal with OnStar to integrate Google technology. The deal to develop several new mobile app features aims to strengthen Chevrolet's commitment to providing Volt customers the most connected vehicle. Nothing confirmed, but can you say "search." The functions and features in the Volt mobile application from OnStar run on the Android platform.

A navigation tab has been added to the home screen of the existing Chevrolet Volt mobile app on the Android smartphone. When a Volt owner presses this tab, they can see the location of their Volt pinpointed on Google Maps, as well as their location relative to it. From this map screen, owners can use Google search by voice to locate a destination with their Android handset, and see where that destination is related to the Volt's location.

Imagine ads, both visual and audio, running on the OnStar platform in Chevrolet's cars. Nothing intrusive, but tap on the icon in the navigation system and it not only tells you the location of the nearest Starbucks coffee house, but perhaps sends a coupon to your Android-supported mobile phone, too.

These applications sit at the tip of the iceberg consumers will see in the coming year as Google continues to transition from a search company into a technology powerhouse. Cloud computing will support some of those apps. Others will come from investments in windmill farms and electricity.

It's a delicate line Google will need to walk and it could explain why its stock price now sites at just under $500 per share. Microsoft began in technology and moved to search. But some say Yahoo's transition from search to technology and portals led the innovator astray.

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