Several times in 2010 Google CEO Eric Schmidt mentioned that Google was taking a "mobile first" approach to computing, including anything from smartphones to Google Apps and its other technologies.
Google is moving that needle forward in 2011. Schmidt wrote in the Harvard Business Review that all of Google's initiatives for year are mobile-centric.
"We are at the point where, between the geolocation capability of the phone and the power of the phone's browser platform, it is possible to deliver personalized information about where you are, what you could do there right now, and so forth--and to deliver such a service at scale."
Schmidt is, of course, referencing Google's contextual discovery capability, where the search engine without prompting sends users recommendations when it detects through a user's mobile phones that they are in close proximity to something that may interest them.
At TechCrunch Disrupt last September, he mentioned being alerted to a museum via his smartphone.
Marissa Mayer, whom Google has tapped to lead Google's local charge, mentioned at Le Web:
"The idea is to push information to people. It's location in context. Inside the browser and a toolbar, we can look at where people have been going on the Web -- then we deliver it. But it's a big UI challenge. In the browser it might be a panel on the right or bottom that complements your browsing. On the mobile phone, it's where you are in the physical world. We can figure out where the next most useful information is. In a restaurant maybe it's a menu. Or maybe it's a social menu. It's about explicit and implicit location."
Very exciting and challenging stuff, especially when Google leverages its Hotpot local recommendation engine and other but before Google gets there, Schmidt stressed three things the companu needs to seed.
- Focus on developing long term evolution networks, those 8-to-10- megaÂbit networks, that are 10 times the data throughput of what we have today. Verizon, AT&T, Sprint and T-Mobile are all working on this, but one wonders what Google Fiber will bring this year.
- Facilitate mobile payments via smartphones. This is why Google has strapped near field communications technology to Android 2.3, which would allow users to swipe their smartphones, such as the Samsung Nexus S, against a contact terminal to make a payment. Google would love to get in on this action to get a stake in mobile commerce.
- Finally, Schmidt Google wants to "increase the availability of inexpensive smartphones in the poorest parts of the world. We envision literally a billion people getting inexpensive, browser-based touchscreen phones over the next few years."
That's a new one to me from Google's lips, but it makes perfect sense. Developing nations may not have computers, but most people can get their hands on a cheap cell phone.That's 1 billion new users Google might otherwise not have reached.
Google isn't alone in this goal. Facebook for example Jan. 19 launched Facebook for Feature Phones, an app designed for feature phones, which are used in developing nations.
Google has its work cut out for it in reaching these goals this year, but it's on the right track. All trends point toward mobile.