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What will Google do in 2013?

Last year I wrote an article called Google 2012: an internet oddysey which extolled my view of what Google would do in 2012. This is a review of that article as well as a gaze into the crystal ball of what might happen for el Goog in 2013.

First up, last year’s review in bullet points (so we don’t spend too much time on them) with a score out of 10 based on how well I thought the prediction did:

  • Hyper Local Ecosystem, driven by Google Plus and Android: Google released many iterations of Android this year. Jelly Bean (4.1) carries Google Now. Google Plus grew from zero to 250-million users in 12 months but is still a quarter the size of Facebook which hit one-billion users in Q3 of 2012. That said, it is the third largest social network behind Facebook and Twitter (if you discount YouTube as a social network). 8/10
  • Google’s Floor Plan was going to be a major hit in the “real life” retail sector: Perhaps this was a bit of an early call, but signs like Google Now indicate that Google is going to try to give relevant local information in an easy and seamless way. Look out for how Google Now and Google Glass are going to integrate in 2013. 5/10
  • Google TV: Google Fiber rolled out in Kansas this year. It provides connection speeds that are 100 times faster than broadband and provides crystal clear high definition TV in plans that users can choose which include channels like Disney, Discovery, BBC, ESPN and Fox – if you’re so inclined. Plus users get a Nexus 7 tablet running Android as the “remote control to their lives.” 7/10
  • I didn’t predict: Glass, Fiber or the departure of Marissa Mayer, but said that 2012 would be a year of consolidation for Google. 0/10 for me on that front.

Predictions for 2013 and beyond

Cloud access:

Our kids are going to look at hard disk storage and laugh the same way we look at 1.44” disks and giggle when we compare them to the SD cards of today. Google’s already doing a lot to ensure that we have constant access to the cloud with the introduction of Google Fiber in Kansas and its aims aren’t just fast, “free” internet either — Google plans on getting the rest of the planet connected via its O3b Networks Initiative.

O3b stands for “other three billion” and is in reference to the other three-billion people in the world who don’t have access to broadband internet. The initiative aims to launch eight satellites in the first half of 2013 and these will provide backhaul connections between mobile operator base stations and the internet.

Wearable tech continues:

Google’s going to let developers and, eventually, the public have access to Glass — this is going to result in a ton of first person user generated content. As a consequence of this and other video technology like YouTube, a lot of mobile traffic is going to be video.

In order to truly take the tech world by storm, Google is going to have to produce another piece of insane hardware to justify the Motorola acquisition which continues to cost Google money and puts a dampener on earnings calls. Perhaps Google Glass could be enhanced by some of the technological innovation within Motorola — voice recognition is already a huge talking point and voice-search is already an awesome part of Google’s search apps.

Push for mobile revenue:

It’s estimated that mobile connected devices outnumbered the earth’s human population in 2012. Other stats show that the use of mobile search has grown over 500% in the past two years. But the problem with the advent of mobile apps is that they’re not searchable.

In the past, Google’s relied upon user’s searches to show relevant advertising that has sold well. Now, users are spending more of their time in walled native apps and this poses a different challenge. Google has done well to create Adsense display revenue from in-app advertising, and the inventory is growing extremely well, considering that there are now one million iOS apps and countless Android counterparts.

With that said, the CPCs on mobile advertising in general are lower than their desktop counterparts, which was evident when Google announced their Q3 earnings. I still believe that hyper-local retail is going to be fuelled by the combination of the Now, Glass and Maps products which are going to connect users to the world in an augmented reality.

As with any predictions column, it’s impossible to predict a once-in-a-lifetime product launch like Google Glass, nor is it easy to predict the departure of someone I considered an integral part of the secret sauce – Marissa Mayer. Let’s hope at least some of what I said works out this year.

Image: Raúl Ochoa

Author | Graeme Lipschitz: Columnist

Graeme Lipschitz: Columnist
Graeme Lipschitz is the co-founder of digital innovation agency Wonderland Works where he heads up Social Media, Search and Product Development. He was previously the business development manager at Clicks2Customers.com and has worked for Google UK and South Africa as a lead account strategist, growing Adwords accounts in the... More
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  • Hello Graeme. I was excited to see Google glasses featured on a local youth program the other day. When I considered the possibilities, I was excited at the life casting opportunities. Questions are: Would a local audience engage online? And what about the availability of the device for local consumers?

    You mentioned Yahoo and I’m particularly disappointed with them catering mostly for the American developers as local pages and coupons for marketing is only available to US citizens.

    Do you think Yahoo will ever be relevant to South Africa? And is it necessary for us to pay attention to them as their search market share is pretty small.

  • Hey Ivin,

    Thanks for engaging. Glad you’re enjoying. The hardware problem is one we see all the time – it gets created but doesn’t ship that quickly. Apple suffers from that problem as you see tons of demand/queues but lots of frustrated adopters who have to wait. Android devices, on the other hand, ship in large numbers and retailers always have a ton of them. So it will be interesting to note which route Google goes. Google Glass is only becoming available for developers this year, so I wouldn’t hold my breath about wearing one personally soon.

    Yahoo! has an interesting model in that they’re trying to bring you local and relevant content. I know that the folks at Apurimac represent Yahoo! in South Africa and are trying really hard to provide localised content. Let me know if you want their details.

    Thanks again.

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