I am happy to give myself a pat on the back for predicting some of Google's recent moves.
Back on May 8, 2005, I wrote an article entitled Google's Future? GBrowser, GooglePC, Google NetPC and Google ISP. In the article, I made some predictions that Google would release their own browser (GBrowser), begin to get involved with web-enabled applications (GOffice), become a retailer of low-cost PC's, and become an ISP (Internet Service Provider). In conversations about my blog posted on other blogs, people agreed to some of what I said and found some things humorous. Interestingly, these people also predicted on their won that Google would someday debut their own IM (or Internet Messenger product) which they labeled GoogleIM. Here's what has happened since May:
- Google hasn't released a browser (GBrowser) yet, but has taken a significant step in taking over a person's desktop for those willing to download Google Desktop. Importantly, Google's Desktop includes a feature called Sidebar which is a mostly unobtrusive sidebar that sits on the right side of the screen and offers latest news, links to email and has other features. Unlike other news aggregation tools (RSS), Google's Sidebar learns your interests and automatically customizes itself for you. Google's Desktop also indexes your hard drive and provides a much faster file search mechanism compared to Microsoft Windows. Thus, while Google has not yet released their own browser, they have taken steps forward in better controlling the information you see in your browser.
- I predicted Google would become an ISP (GoogleISP) and recently information has leaked out that GoogleISP is about to happen. More accurately, Google is about to become a national wireless ISP. Of note, Google is buying up $100 million worth of fiber optic network cables (which people are labeling GoogleNet), has already started a wireless ISP service in the San Francisco Bay Area (which people are calling Google WiFi), and has released a tool to make wireless access more secure but auto-encrypting transmission of data (called Google Secure Access) compared to most wireless hotspots that can make your PC or laptop vulnerable.
- My article predicted that Google will allow web-enabled applications (GOffice) and that file storage would be housed centrally on Google servers rather than your PC (meaning you could access your files using any PC you log onto). As part of Google WiFi, Google is rolling out a VPN (Virtual Private Network). Although details are scarce, the main use of a VPN is to store files in one central location. A logical next step is rolling out web-enabled applications, which of course would could further cut Microsoft out of the picture.
- My predictions about the GooglePC and Google NetPC have not yet materialized, but I'd like to make 2 points. First, any PC logged into the forthcoming GoogleVPN through Google WiFi could be considered a GooglePC. Second, I did say the main intent of the Google NetPC would be to bring a low-cost PC to hundreds of millions of potential new users in China and India.
- As readers of my predictions predicted, Google has released their own IM tool which is now called GoogleTalk. However, this is more than a simple IM tool in that it allows to users that have downloaded GoogleTalk to have a live conversation with other users for free. Google could render your local phone company obsolete someday.
Thus, I'd say my predictions were spot on. It's amazing that I made the predictions just 4 months ago and gave Google up to 5 years to bring them to market, but Google has largely showed they will bring all or most of these to market very soon.
So now that my predictions have largely come true, I'm allowed as a futurist to suggest some new predictions. Of course, no futurist is always correct and even being right 50% of the time is considered good. Google has moved so fast that it's now old news that Google wants to become a telecommunications company. The biggest prediction I'll make now is that Google buys TiVo and radically improves the TV viewing experience. On that note, please observe that Google's Sidebar could easily sit on the far right side of modern widescreen TV's (with the ability to easily hide it when necessary). I'll ramble on about GoogleTV in the near future, some of which has already come true. Stay tuned...