Google I/O Product Plans: 10 Clues to the Company's Future Growth

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2011-05-11

Google I/O Product Plans: 10 Clues to the Company's Future Growth

At the first day of Google I/O 2011, it was clear that the search giant had a mission. At its keynote address, the company indicated that over the next several months and years, it wants to have a presence in as many markets as possible. The days of just relying upon search and advertising are officially dead.

Of course, that isn't much of a surprise. For years now, Google has been building its share of the smartphone market with its Android operating system. The firm's acquisition of AdMob in 2009 ensured that it would also play a bit role in mobile advertising. Now that there are some Android-based tablets on store shelves, Google has its sights set on Apple's iPad.

But Google didn't focus all its time on mobile communication or mobile advertising at the I/O Conference keynote. The company touched on a number of additional markets that it believes it can perform well in. It talked about new ways it will grow in its established markets as well as how it plans to grow in new market sectors.

Here's what Google's I/O announcements reveal about the company's future growth roadmap.

1. It has its sights set on iTunes.

Arguably the biggest announcement Google made at its I/O conference was Google Music. The service, which is currently in beta, offers users in the U.S. free access to songs over the Web. Android owners will also be able to access tracks from the cloud. For now, Google Music isn't much of a threat to Apple's iTunes platform. But it's apparent that the cloud is the next frontier in music. Now, Google is laying the groundwork to become the dominant player in that market-much to Apple's chagrin.

2. Google is more committed than ever to smartphones.

Google spent a considerable amount of time at the I/O conference talking about its presence in the smartphone market with Android. The company stated clearly that it won't slacken its effort to keep expanding its mobile business. According to Google, over 100 million Android devices have been activated. Moreover, over 400,000 Android-based products are being activated each and every day. There is good reason for Google to commit itself to smartphones.

3. Google wants to keep expanding the tablet market.

Google didn't just stop at smartphones. The company also showed that it wants to build an even bigger presence in the tablet market. And it plans to start that charge by releasing Android Honeycomb 3.1, an update to the OS running on Android-based tablets. With the update, consumers will find a number of performance and bug fixes. It will also address an issue with image rendering. By the looks of things, Android 3.1 might just be Google's best answer yet to iOS 4 running on the iPad.

4. It's committed to mobile entertainment.

As the popularity of smartphones and tablets increases, people are looking to do more with those platforms. That's why Google's announcement of the Movies service, allowing users to rent films from the Android Market makes a lot of sense. Mobile devices are becoming increasingly important for people who want to be entertained while on the go. Google wants to be at the center of that changeover.

Google I/O Product Plans: 10 Clues to the Company's Future Growth

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5. It recognizes Android fragmentation as an issue.

One of the biggest issues in the Android ecosystem is fragmentation. There are simply far too many Android devices running too many versions of the software. With Android 2.4 "Ice Cream Sandwich," Google hopes to address that. In fact, the main object of "Ice Cream Sandwich" is to reduce the perceived amount of Android fragmentation. That's an important step in Google's mobile plans. And it's nice to see the search giant finally acknowledging the problem.

6. It's not giving up on Google TV just yet.

Though details are slim so far on Google TV's future, the company said at its I/O keynote that it's not giving up on the entertainment platform. In fact, it plans to bring the Android Market to the service, which means Google TV should have a new lease on life after the update is implemented. There's no telling what the future of Google TV is just yet, but the platform didn't perform as well as it could have. With the upcoming addition of Android Market, it might finally start to live up to the hype.

7. Google wants to control the home.

Arguably one of the most surprising announcements Google made at the I/O conference was its intention to enter the home automation market with Android At Home. The company wants to turn a user's Android-based smartphone or tablet into a platform that can connect to appliances, lighting and other products around the home. It's an interesting move on Google's part that indicates the search giant wants nothing more than to control the home.

8. Apple is in its sights.

Currently, Apple is performing extremely well in the mobile market, thanks to its iPhone and iPad. The Steve Jobs-run company also has enjoyed some success with the Apple TV. Apple Tunes remains the top music store in the world. If many of Google's announcements, including improvements to Android, the Google TV update and Google Music, are taken into account, it's clear that the firm has one overriding goal: to take Apple down a notch. Get ready for a full-fledged battle in the coming years between these tech giants.

9. Apps are integral to its future.

Google announced at its I/O Conference keynote that it now has over 200,000 free and paid applications in the Android Market. Moreover, over 4.5 billion applications have been installed on devices since that marketplace's launch. As Google prepares to bring the Android Market to Google TV and continues to work with developers to make things a bit easier for them, it's showing how important applications are for its future. It also indicates Google's intention to best Apple's App Store as soon as possible.

10. It's no longer about search.

Though Google is perhaps best known as a search and online advertising firm, the company's market identity isn't that simple anymore. Google is now a consumer-focused company that wants to be the average customer's companion, both at home and on the go. Google still relies heavily upon search. But for Google to succeed in the coming years, search has to become an important, but still smaller percentage of the company's overall business.


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