Google, Norad Track Santa and Some 2012 Predictions

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2011-12-23

Google continued its annual ritual of teaming up with Norad to track Santa.

Google supplies its Google Maps and Street View software for Norad's Santa Site. Starting Saturday, Dec. 24, at 2:00 a.m. EST, Santa lovers can navigate to in their Web browser to track Santa's global trip, starting from the North Pole:

No, it's not a sequel to "The Polar Express," but you'd be forgiven for thinking so given the crisp animation.

Those who use Google Earth (you must install the Earth plug-in) can follow Santa's location in 3D, which was done with a neat technical trick in which Google puts Earth inside a Web page.

Google Maps mobile application users may track Santa from their iPhones and Android handsets.

Google's Chief Santa Tracker Bruno Bowden, who said the Santa Tracker receives half a million queries per second on Dec. 24, explained the genesis of Santa Tracker, both with Norad and Google, on this TEDActive talk:

Now, a message from the editor: Me! I won't be blogging again until the New Year, so you'll be forgiven if you don't come back until then. In the meantime, here are some musings about Google as I look forward to 2012.

  1. The Federal Trade Commission may take Google to court next year. At least, it certainly seems as if it has enough anecdotal evidence to force the action, thanks to Yelp, Nextag and Congressmen who are gunning to make their names by slaying the Next Microsoft. But any such case won't be resolved next year either.
  2. I believe 2012 will be a turning point for Google Apps, one way or another. Office 365 is a force to be reckoned with and Google will have to work harder than ever to compete, especially after the most recent LAPD contract blow. I have no reason not to believe Google Apps won't grow, but I'd like to see more large enterprise contracts on top of government cloud bids.
  3. Google's Android platform will continue to cost OEMs a lot of money in the legal system. Courts will throw out some claims, as we recently saw with Apple and HTC, but Microsoft and Apple will continue to sue for patent infringement. Oracle will win its case versus Google via settlement in 2012, with Google paying out $1 billion-plus in royalties. Google will win Motorola's hand after regulatory review, but it will generate ill will among Samsung, HTC and others for favoring or appearing to favor Motorola Android products.
  4. Chrome OS will be shuttered, or banished to open source for good, if Chromebook sales don't pick up and other PC makers don't buy in. Why? Two reasons. First, CEO Larry Page is cleaning house for dead-end projects to focus on core software. Second, tablets are taking over the spot that could have gone to Chromebooks. They're even killing netbooks. Tablets and ultrabooks will rule in 2012, leaving little room for Chromebooks.
  5. Ditto on the shuttering for Google TV, which has an outside shot of surviving thanks, ironically, to Apple. Here's why: Microsoft's Xbox 360 with voice-controlled Kinect will gain traction, bringing more attention to the Web TV sector. Apple will launch a Web TV product. The emergence of these two powerful players will open the marketing doors for Google TV to land on more TV sets. We should see more of this at CES next month. I'll be there to witness.

I'm going to cap it at that. Have a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year, gentle readers. And thanks for a wonderful year.

Rocket Fuel