8 bold predictions on Google's next moves

Insiders offer their insights on the Internet behemoth.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3

Some 63% of U.S. Internet users performed local searches online in July 2006, up 43% from a year earlier, according to a comScore study. With local content growing in popularity, "I think [Google] will get into local reviews," Fishkin says.

"Google is one of the weakest when it comes to having content around local search and user reviews," he says. Given the popularity of local services from Yahoo, Yelp and Citysearch, Fishkin says he expects the company to invest in or partner with a local review provider or a large travel portal. "Google is going to want to serve more and complete data to users with their searches," he predicts.

7. Google Takes Another Stab at Social Networking

Google tanked in the U.S. with its Orkut social network, though the network is widely popular in Brazil and India. Look for Google to take another, bolder run at this important market in 2008.

"Right now, they don't have any real strong presence, and they know it's the Holy Grail for them," Winfield says. "A site like Facebook controls so much of users' activities, just like Google wants to do. So it's very important to have a foothold in there."

In October, Microsoft announced that it would pay $240 million for a 1.6% stake in social networking upstart Facebook after a high-profile battle with Google and Yahoo Inc. The investment boosted Facebook's valuation to $15 billion and positions Microsoft as Google's biggest competitor in the search advertising market.

"That's why they're going to make major moves in that category -- after losing that to Microsoft," Winfield says. "I see them either making a huge play [to acquire another social network] or building their own."

An internal project reportedly under way at Google encompasses a grand plan to build a social layer across all of its applications. According to TechCrunch.com co-editor Erick Schonfeld's blog, Google plans to use the feed engine that powers Google Reader (known internally as Reactor) to create "activity streams" for other applications, akin to Facebook's news and mini feeds.

With Facebook valued at $15 billion and MySpace already owned by big rival News Corp., Google will have to set its sights on smaller or foreign social networks if it wants an acquisition target, Winfield says.

8. Get ready for the Google Operating System

"It would not shock me if there was an announcement next year that Google was going to put into beta an operating system on Linux, an open-source system, or something like it," Fishkin says.

Editor's note: See "Google touts 'Android,' its new open mobile platform" for information about Google's Linux-based platform, announced in November.

Collett is a Computerworld contributing writer. Contact her at Stcollett@aol.com.

Related News and Discussion:

Forecast 2008: IT Trends & Predictions for the New Year

How'd we do in '07?  See last year's Forecast 2007.

Copyright © 2007 IDG Communications, Inc.

1 2 3 Page 3
Page 3 of 3
9 steps to lock down corporate browsers
  
Shop Tech Products at Amazon