8 Google Projects To Watch in 2015 - InformationWeek
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2/18/2015
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8 Google Projects To Watch in 2015

We're highlighting Google's top 2015 projects -- from the pragmatic to the peculiar. Once you've explored the offerings, tell us which ones are your favorites -- and which ones you think are total duds -- in the comments section below.
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(Image: Courtesy of Google)

(Image: Courtesy of Google)

Google makes billions of dollars dishing out contextual ads. Its bread-and-butter search revenue makes it appealing to investors, but less so to tech enthusiasts and journalists, many of whom would rather hear about the search giant's forays into self-driving cars or micro-satellites than, say, the latest AdWord upgrade.

As in years past, Google is undertaking an ambitious array of business partnerships and tech projects in 2015. Some of these efforts have the more pragmatic goal of boosting the company's presence in growing mainstream markets such as enterprise cloud computing. Others are blue-sky initiatives, such as self-driving cars or low-orbit satellites designed to make the Internet accessible from just about anywhere on Earth.

Google's business is becoming increasingly diversified. For instance, there's the very successful Chromebooks venture, and the very unsuccessful Google Glass (which really isn't dead yet -- more on this in the slideshow), as well as the too-soon-to-tell Android Wear (software for wearables) and Android Auto (car tech).

What else is Google working on? One persistent rumor claims the company will soon offer its own wireless plan by reselling Sprint and T-Mobile services. If true, it's possible Google might act as a disruptive force by seriously undercutting the prices of the two top wireless giants, AT&T and Verizon. There's a precedent for this in the broadband market. Google charges just $70 per month for its 1000Mbps fiber-optic service, which is currently available in three US markets. Verizon, by comparison, charges $75 per month for its 75Mbps FiOS Internet plan, and $285/month for 500Mbps. So, if you fear you're overpaying for home broadband -- or what your ISP calls "broadband" -- you probably are.

Google's side projects are fun to watch, but they don't always contribute a lot to the company's bottom line. Advertising makes up about 90% of the company's revenue. Many of Google's experiments may seem kooky, but they're really designed to benefit Google's core ad business by bringing more Internet users online, many of whom will use Google Search. For instance, Project Loon, a proposed global network of high-altitude balloons for bringing wireless Internet to rural and remote areas, could help Google's core business a great deal.

We've summarized Google's top 2015 projects -- from the pragmatic to the peculiar -- in the image gallery that follows. Once you've scrolled through the offerings, tell us which ones are your favorites – and which ones you think are total duds -- in the comments section below.

Jeff Bertolucci is a technology journalist in Los Angeles who writes mostly for Kiplinger's Personal Finance, The Saturday Evening Post, and InformationWeek. View Full Bio

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dausyt
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dausyt,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/5/2015 | 2:09:54 PM
Interesting projects
I like them all but my top 3 is: Google for work, Android wear and Android car
PedroGonzales
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PedroGonzales,
User Rank: Ninja
2/23/2015 | 1:03:43 PM
Re: Google Fiber
I think broadband internet with greater bandwidth is the best innovation.  I would really help business to take advantage of the Internet are a really great price.  I do not think self driving cars may go anywhere.  May be for people with disabilities as many people pointed out here, already.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 5:02:12 PM
Re: I'm a big believer in all things Google but...
@glenbren, You raised a legitimate concern. I wonder if accidents will be on the rise due to the self-driven cars. I know I don't want to be a guinea pig in this department.
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 3:13:17 PM
Re: I'm a big believer in all things Google but...
@Angelfuego,

Good points about people with disabilities and seniors being able to use self-driven cars. That would be great! I also wonder how regular cars and self-driven cars would interact when on the road together. If a car cuts you off, you can swerve to avoid a crash. Would a self-driven car be able to do that?
tjgkg
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tjgkg,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 1:59:29 PM
Re: Google Fiber
I love gadgets but so far the wearable stuff is no big deal for me. However I am interested to see what Apple's offering will be and i think that as these devices become more mainstream, smart folks will develop really useful applications for them. But i also think they should be independent from a motherphone.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 12:39:46 PM
Re: Google Fiber
@Progman, Android Wear does appeal to me with the new gadgets and enhancements. I am going to hold off until I am able to evaluate reviews by users. Although that they are making improvements to make sure the watches comprise of features that consumers desire, but I am not going to jump on it just yet. A major concern of mine would entail the life of the battery.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 12:31:44 PM
Re: I'm a big believer in all things Google but...
@glenbren, I guess there will have to be certain parameters for the cars. I also wish DUI's become a thing of the past. A lot of lives could be saved if people didn't drink and drive or if this form of technology could override impaired drivers. I assume there still needs to be a sober licensed driver, behind the wheel though, but you definitely raised a good point.
Angelfuego
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Angelfuego,
User Rank: Ninja
2/21/2015 | 12:23:36 PM
Re: I'm a big believer in all things Google but...
All 8 Google projects to watch for im 2015 sparked my interest, but the Android auto sparked my interest more than the other 7 Google projects. In essence, we need to know more. I thought of some other concerns. I'm assuming there will have to be clear guidelines, because I doubt we could just let kids ride around in the car alone. I would assume a licensed driver would have to be in the car. Would an impaired person that is not driving but has a license be able to sit in the car and get driven around, since they are not operating the vehicle. I guess this would allow seniors to really get around without actually worrying about poor reflexes or poor eyesight. Will this new project serve as a modification for those with disabilities that prevent them from driving or acquiring a license as a means to get to and from places without depending on other avenues? I also am curious about whether or not the DMV will implement a training course of some sort as a mandate before utilizing one of these cars.
glenbren
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glenbren,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 4:14:28 PM
Re: I'm a big believer in all things Google but...
I would love nothing more than to see DUI's become a thing of the past, but I would imagine that even if your car is driving itself, you would still need to be capable of taking it over in the case of a malfunction or emergency. I wonder how many people would drink and 'not' drive? What do organizations like MADD think about this?
jastroff
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jastroff,
User Rank: Ninja
2/20/2015 | 10:44:44 AM
Does Google have the Smarts to do it all?
There's lots of chatter these days whether Google has the talent to do most of these, and that they've strayed beyond their search engine roots into some failures. But that's just Wall St.

After the new interface for Gmail they demonstrated they aren't really a very good UX company.

Would be interesting to see how they've monetized Google business services. 
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