I feel that I'm turning into some sort of Google-watcher these days or have been a Google junkie without realizing it.
A couple of days ago I found an entertaining video on YouTube (how apropos) of interesting sites and places to visit in Google Earth. I recently posted about new Google search functionality and presentation options. Before that it was a brief look at Google's Android mobile phone platform. Last year I was - and will soon be again - looking at Google Trends as a potential prediction tool for the American Idol contest winner.
This is sort of interesting as it brings a set of old school (Groups - Usenet, Scholar - refereed journals, and Glossary - reference sources) content together with new school (YouTube, Blogger, Google News commentary) together in a jumble of seemingly disparate audiences through Google-branded channels. It clearly extends new school functionality (Web 2.0) into old school mediums (proto-web and Web 1.0) while trying to preserve or normalize the presentation, experience and general consumption of content and services. Through this normalization process, Google is able to preserve/build brand recognition (
) Grand Central, "a production of Google." Their info page asks and answers: "What is GrandCentral? Get all the same calls, but in a whole new way." That's all fine and dandy; it's nothing you can't get from existing, consumer VoIP providers. Their feature set is pretty comprehensive which conceptually place it as a virtual voice communication firewall in some regards.
That's kind of cool but it doesn't seem like a Googlesque sort of venture. Until you add other Google services. Now you have an interesting stack supplying different, but converging on, fully integrated services:
- Unified messaging and search through Gmail, Gtalk, Google SMS, GOOG-411, Grand Central and Android-powered phones - interactive communication anytime, anywhere.
- Location-specific and/or context-relative search through traditional Google search, Google Local/Maps, geo-tagged Picasa pictures, Google's Ride Finder and Transit - find anything and find a way to get to it.
- Topical information via Google Trends, Google Finance, Google SMS and storage through Google Notes and Google Docs/Spreadsheets - search for time-sensitive information through a comparative search funnel, world markets and your own content and have results presented in next-to-real-time via SMS or your personalized iGoogle hompage or Google Desktop.
- Organization and sharing/presentation through Google Personalized Search, Google Docs/Calendar, Google Notes, Google Bookmarks, various Alerts (news, SMS, calendar alerts, Blogger post alerts, etc.)