On 15th anniversary, Google is a historical tech powerhouse

With focusing on so many areas, can Google maintain its position?

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Among other things, people are buzzing about the company's self-driving cars and its computerized eyewear called Google Glass, which enable users to check their email, receive breaking news, take pictures and even shoot video without even holding a device in their hands. Though Glass isn't even slated to ship until 2014, they've gained a lot of attention - both positive and negative.

Patrick Moorhead, an analyst with Moor Insights & Strategy, said it's too soon to say how well Google will manage all the projects it has going on. "If Google can protect their search dominance, then investments look revolutionary," he added. "If not, they look like distractions."

However, while Enderle quipped that "Google can't spell 'focus'," Olds is more optimistic about the company's ability to juggle many different pursuits at once.

"Google hasn't lost focus in a significant way yet, although many have predicted this might happen -- me included," Olds said. "They've had their misfires and failures, sure, but they have a lot of irons in many fires at a time, which means they have a steady supply of good ideas and products coming out the door."

Because Google has so many projects spread out over different categories, the company is in heated competition with several different companies.

For instance, Google goes head to head with Apple over the smartphone market. Facebook is Google's biggest rival in social networking, online advertising and grabbing eyeballs online. Of course, Google also battles with Microsoft over cloud-based office apps.

The analysts, though, noted that while Google needs to keep a close eye on its competitors, it also has to pay attention to the government agencies that could cause it a lot of grief.

The company faces antitrust issues with the European Commission, as well as the U.S. Department of Justice.

"Google is so big and powerful at this point that they're attracting attention from governmental bodies on a variety of fronts," said Olds. "The company also needs to tread carefully when it comes to consumer privacy. This is one area where they have been consistently tone deaf, with Google executives saying time and time again that there isn't any such thing as online privacy. While they may believe this, I don't think consumers hold the same opinion."

With its fingers in so many different business areas, it's hard to say where Google goes from here. The next 15 years could see the company working more deeply with Detroit on autonomous automobiles, diving head first into more wearable computers and still integrating search into as many products as possible.

"Who knows, but I'll bet it probably will creep me out in some way or other," joked Olds.

This article, On 15th anniversary, Google is a historical tech powerhouse, was originally published at Computerworld.com.

Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, on Google+ or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is sgaudin@computerworld.com.

See more by Sharon Gaudin on Computerworld.com.

Copyright © 2013 IDG Communications, Inc.

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