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1/2/2014
09:06 AM
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn
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Google In 2014: 10 Predictions

2013 proved a great year for Google. Will 2014 be even better?

Google had a good year in 2013. As of mid-December, its stock was up about 55% for the year. Apple meanwhile was up a mere 4%.

Google is expected to take in more than half of all mobile ad revenue this year, and its share of the market appears likely to continue growing as it becomes better at monetizing YouTube on mobile devices.

Android consolidated its position as the leading smartphone platform, by volume if not quality. According to IDC, Android handsets accounted for 81% of all smartphone shipments worldwide during the third quarter of the year.

Chrome OS found its footing as a platform for low-priced laptops. Google+ has over half a million users, even if it has fallen short in terms of sharing and engagement.

Google should have an even better 2014, as Larry Page's effort to put more wood behind fewer arrows continues to pay off.

But before we get to next year, let's look at how my predictions for Google 2013 fared.

1. Google Glass delayed after developers puzzle over its reason for being
True enough. Google in 2013 sent mixed messages about the consumer release of Glass. Early in the year, the company aimed for a late 2013 release, but in an April interview with the BBC, Google executive chairperson Eric Schmidt said Glass would arrive in 2014. The company's decision to issue new hardware to buyers of the Glass Explorer Edition suggests the need to refine the design further, before attempting a general commercial release.

2. Google becomes a force in content production
True enough. Google signaled its intention to do so by funding streaming content projects in 2011. This year, it expanded its commitment to content production with its YouTube Space studios in London, Los Angeles, and Tokyo. There's another planned for New York next fall. YouTube is also planning to end 70/30 revenue-sharing terms, according to Variety, forcing all content makers to accept a less lucrative 55/45 advertising revenue split. That's a sign YouTube has plenty of quality content and no longer sees the need to extend favorable terms to the best content producers.

3. Google fights taxes
True. The company has even started supporting conservative groups that oppose taxes, in contrast to its socially liberal public image.

4. Google expands voice technology lead
True enough. Though there are companies like Nuance that arguably have more sophisticated voice technology, Google has made voice recognition widely available. It's easy to conduct a voice search from Google.com and the company just launched a Chrome "hotwording" extension that allows users to set their browsers up to listen for the "ok google" prompt, and to process the words that follow as a search.

5. The Google+ jokes will stop
True enough. That doesn't mean Google+ is beloved or has been enthusiastically embraced -- Google's approach to Google+ seems to be "the beatings will continue until morale improves." Witness the unwelcomed imposition of Google+ on YouTube's comment system. But Google+ does win compliments on occasion and has found fans among the IT crowd. But it remains to be seen whether social networking overall will continue in its current form, now that Facebook is confronting waning enthusiasm among the young and mobile is changing the dynamics of social networking.

6. Android first
False. Android undoubtedly has eclipsed iOS in terms of global unit sales, but there's more to smartphone platforms than that.

7. Chromebooks to high end
True.

8. Google prepares for 2014 retail push
True, or so it seems.

9. The Google cloud platform picks up steam
True, though perhaps not as fast as needed to catch up with Amazon.

10. Google buys Pinterest
False.

11. Google graduates to ISP
True enough. Google Fiber has expanded from Kansas City, Mo. to Provo, Utah, and is headed for Austin, Texas by mid-2014 -- and there's Project Loon.

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Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2014 | 4:35:43 PM
Re: #10 bold but intriguing
On Google+: it's my favorite social media outlet, but I find the YouTube intrusion most annoying. I won't share any YouTube videos or even comment on any such shares on G+ because I don't want my comments on YouTube. It's not a platform I care to engage on. 
Ariella
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Ariella,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2014 | 4:35:42 PM
Re: #10 bold but intriguing
On Google+: it's my favorite social media outlet, but I find the YouTube intrusion most annoying. I won't share any YouTube videos or even comment on any such shares on G+ because I don't want my comments on YouTube. It's not a platform I care to engage on. 
Lorna Garey
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Lorna Garey,
User Rank: Author
1/2/2014 | 4:20:11 PM
#10 bold but intriguing
As a Chromebook user, I find the idea of a Chrome phone attractive. But, what about the killer factor in a mobile platform: the app ecosystem?
cbabcock
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cbabcock,
User Rank: Strategist
1/2/2014 | 3:35:05 PM
Time for Google to up enterprise cloud ante
Yes, it's about as hard to think of Google becoming a major player in cloud as it is to think about Rackspace becoming a major force in Search. Yet, it's got the capability and an unrivalled position as a supplier of Web service performance. It still has a shot at becoming a major enterprise cloud service in 2014. If it doesn't succeed this year in doing so, then who knows. 2015 will look much more dire for it.
Laurianne
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Laurianne,
User Rank: Author
1/2/2014 | 2:30:10 PM
Google Glass Clip-On
This move would signifiacntly reduce the entry price for Google Glass, and that's a plus. But it wouldn't reduce the social awkwardness factor. I think they are going to have to battle the creepy perception for a while. PS: No prediction of a sequel for "The Internship"?
moarsauce123
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moarsauce123,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2014 | 1:49:57 PM
Taxes
In the end Google is simply a business that wants to make as much money as possible. Sharing the joy of raking in the dough by paying taxes that may feed the hungry is just not jiving with the main goal of Google. Google is not the only one, Apple is the master in tax evasion and plenty of others spin off subsidiaries to incorporate them in Ireland: barely any corperate taxes, almost no regulations, and people still speak English. And no matter how fair and how low US taxes get, if there is a place that has lower taxes and less regulations "US" businesses will go there. So if taxes for gazillion billion dollar conglomerates like Google are too high, then lower taxes and nicke and dime them for other stuff such as doing business in the US.
ChrisMurphy
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ChrisMurphy,
User Rank: Author
1/2/2014 | 12:59:18 PM
Google factory robots
It's hard for me to see Google being a player in manufacturing robots. Google has a hard time giving enterprise IT enough of a product roadmap to plan use of Google Apps -- buyers of factory automation have much higher planning demands. I could see Google being more interested in logistics-related robotics, something more related to its self driving car and mapping technologies.   
jagibbons
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jagibbons,
User Rank: Ninja
1/2/2014 | 12:22:01 PM
Android handled poorly at every step
As a multi-year user of Android, it is difficult to think of it being surpassed. I haven't see enough of Chrome to be able to picture it replacing Android in my mind, but I am sure that it isn't hard to stay in front of iOS when you want flexibility. Google has handled Android poorly from the beginning, even if you set aside the challenges with Java. To much flexibility in licensing to hardware makers, not enforcing update rules, not maximizing the value of Motorola Mobility to make that the "flagship" of the Android brand. In retrospect, it looks almost like Android was the experimental accident that has risen to the top spot despite a multitude of missteps and failures along the way.
D. Henschen
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D. Henschen,
User Rank: Author
1/2/2014 | 11:05:25 AM
Cloud Platforms: We're In This, Too
Google's cloud infrastructure business seems much like it's social network efforts. They're late to the game and trying to say "we're in this, too." But they're not going to come close to AWS or Facebook any more than either of those players (or Yahoo) would have hope of topping Google's search/ad/keyword business.
Kristin Burnham
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Kristin Burnham,
User Rank: Author
1/2/2014 | 9:42:15 AM
Clip-on Glass? Yes.
Google Glass as a clip-on accessory is much more desirable than Google Glass as it is today. Greater flexibility for users. It will be interesting to see what 2014 brings.
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