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.
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.