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Google In 2012: 10 Predictions

The year to come will see Google circling its wagons to defend its search business and pressing its advantage through Chrome and Android.
5. Google Chrome Ends 2012 With 35% Market Share
StatCounter presently estimates Chrome's global market share at just over 25%. It started 2011 around 15%. Given the slope of the graph of Chrome adoption, Google's vigorous development of new features for Chrome like NativeClient, Firefox's suspension of its multi-process project Electrolysis (critical to compete with Chrome), and the lack of an obvious avenue of counterattack for Microsoft's Internet Explorer, Chrome appears destined to continue growing at the same rate it has been throughout 2012.

Chrome is also making inroads with business customers, a constituency Firefox alienated in 2011 following changes in its update practices. "We're seeing great adoption because of the security and speed in the business context," said Singh.

6. Google TV's Second Act Stronger Than Its First
With new, more affordable Google TV hardware, the second iteration of Google TV will find limited success. Taking a page from Apple, the new Google TV hardware will be a $99 set-top box with an ARM-based chip. The problem is that the product consumers want--a way to view any content immediately for a reasonable per-show fee--cannot exist given current Hollywood release windows and competing sales channels. Google's challenge in 2012 will be to bring unique content to Google TV, through apps, Google-funded content, and YouTube, to make the service valuable in its own right, rather than in proportion to the availability of traditional content.

7. Google Will Take A Shot At Siri, As Apple Promotes Its Replacement For Google Maps
Google will introduce Google Voice Control, the project currently known by the codename "Majel," at its developer conference at the end of June. It will feature a dialogue with Apple's Siri, in which Google's product will come out sounding smarter. Andy Rubin or Vic Gundotra will conclude the presentation with some wittily veiled put-down of Siri's intelligence. Google's bravado will sound somewhat hollow, however, as Apple, having just held its Worldwide Developer Conference, will have revealed that it has made mapping a core service in iOS and Mac OS, accessible from a dedicated button in mobile and desktop Safari, not to mention via Siri. Apple will leave the future of its default Maps application in limbo deliberately until its fall iOS release makes it clear Maps will become an optional install in 2013, guaranteeing Apple's control of local data.

8. Google Will Release Chrome For Android
The current default browser on devices sporting a Google flavor of Android (as opposed to Amazon's version of Android) is built with WebKit and Chrome's V8 JavaScript rendering engine. In 2012, it will become Chrome For Android and will include NativeClient, for serious browser-based mobile gaming. Google spent 2011 connecting its products with social plumbing, but its mobile portfolio needs further unification.

9. Google+ Survives
To observers looking for a fight between Google+ and Facebook, the match-up will continue to appear lopsided in 2012. By the time Facebook's IPO rolls around, there will be talk of Google+ being a ghost town. While Google won't be able to boast 1 billion users like Facebook, it will manage to get to 50 million. But the growth of Google+ will be more sustainable because it will be based on utility rather than vanity. Services like Hangouts and Google Voice integration will find their way into the routines of businesspeople, and integration with other Google services will generate more usage, even as Facebook cements its dominance as the social network.

10. Google Patents "One-Snap" Purchasing
Perhaps you've heard of Amazon's "One-Click" patent, the poster child for the absurdity of patent law. Well, Google, having been at the receiving end of one too many patent claims, will follow in the footsteps of its enemies and patent every obvious series of actions it can describe. And somewhere in one of Google's many buildings, an engineer will write up a description of how the company's image recognition software, with a single smartphone button press, can be used to identify products captured in pictures and to order those products from retail partners. A lawyer will then rewrite the engineer's text to make it non-obvious and Google will be awarded a patent for its trouble.

Microsoft will scoff and deploy its patented purchasing method that doesn't require any buttons: With Microsoft Kinect-Buy, you will just wave your Windows Phone at the object of your desire and it will be ordered for you. Apple will also be unmoved: It will roll out a mobile shopping service called Apple Purchase Protection by which an Apple review board will protect customers from purchasing unworthy products by canceling orders before they can be processed.

That's how 2012 will go down, more or less, except maybe for this last prediction.

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