Google In 2013: 11 Predictions - InformationWeek

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Thomas Claburn
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Google In 2013: 11 Predictions

Google Glass won't shine, but the company as a whole will thrive in 2013. See if you agree with our predictions.

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Google in 2013 will travel two steps forward and one step back. Through the merciless culling of its product portfolio at the hands of CEO Larry Page, and the growing synergy between its cloud services, operating systems and Google-friendly hardware, the company is well-positioned to consolidate its power and to keep growing.

The company has survived a copyright and patent infringement claim from Oracle that threatened to undo Android. Its hardware partners have fared less well, with Samsung on the defensive as it tries to reverse the billion-dollar judgment Apple won over the summer and with other Android hardware makers paying patent protection money to Microsoft and Apple.

Google's backward motion will be the result of a push by regulators and corporate litigants around the world to tame the company's ability to disrupt established markets and to extract tolls for daring to subsidize what was once expensive with ad revenue. Only a handful of companies are competing effectively against Google, and those that are doing well, like Baidu in China, tend to benefit from a regulatory advantage or, like Microsoft and its Office suite, from force of habit.

[ Freedom of online expression may be at risk. Read Google, Mozilla Warn Of Threats To Internet Freedom. ]

Google's greatest challenge in 2013 will come not from competitors but from the difficulties of monetizing mobile ads. Adblock Plus is now available for Android devices. Your move, Google.

My 2012 Predictions Scorecard

But before we get to Google's future, let's look at its past, specifically as it relates to my 2012 predictions.

1. Google Stars In "Regulatory Theater"
True. And the show continues. As this story was being written, the Wall Street Journal was reporting that U.S. and European Union antitrust officials plan to meet next week to discuss what to do about Google. They will struggle to come up with an effective remedy because search is subjective and Google's argument that it can bias its rankings as it sees fit is largely unassailable if you subscribe to free market capitalism.

2. Google Loses 5% Market Share To Bing
False. Microsoft's Bing search engine has gained market share in the U.S. but only about 1% as of October 2012. It presently receives about 16% of U.S. searches. Google meanwhile accounted for 66.9% of U.S. searches in October, according to ComScore, a record for the company. "Competition is only a click away," as Google puts it, turns out to be another way of saying "You can't get there from here."

3. GM Goes Google
False. Following the departure of CIO Terry Kline earlier this year, GM opted not to follow-through with the plan to switch to Google Apps, according to a person familiar with the matter. I asked GM's current CIO, Randy Mott, whether he'd be willing to be interviewed about the decision not to go Google. I haven't heard back.

4. Android's Share Of Smartphone Sales Reaches 60%
True, and then some. According to Gartner, Android accounted for 72% of smartphone sales in Q3 2012.

5. Google Chrome Ends 2012 With 35% Market Share
True enough. Chrome had 34.77% of the global browser market share in October 2012, according to StatCounter.

6. Google TV's Second Act Stronger Than Its First
Debatable. It would be hard to have a weaker second act, given Google TV's unimpressive debut, but second-generation Google TV devices haven't exactly been making waves. My prediction that Google would launch an ARM-based Google TV set-top box remains unfulfilled, but Sony has done so, the Sony NSZ-GS7.

7. Google Will Take A Shot At Siri, As Apple Promotes Its Replacement For Google Maps
True, even if Apple Maps has underwhelmed.

8. Google Will Release Chrome For Android

9. Google+ Survives
True. Google+ may not be an immediate threat to Facebook, but it's hanging in there.

All told, that's either six or seven right out of nine, depending on whether or not I get credit for prediction #6 about Google TV. Now on to 2013. Keep in mind that past performance does not guarantee future results.

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User Rank: Apprentice
12/24/2012 | 3:07:01 PM
re: Google In 2013: 11 Predictions
Nice predictions. Just a few things I think you have wrong or google have already stated they will be doing anyway.

""Google will push the date for general release back to 2014 a"" Google has already stated that it doesn't plan on a consumer launch of Glass until 2014.

I do not think Google will be making any big acquisitions in 2013 as it is still struggling to sort out its acquisition with Motorola. An it forays into social networks acquisitions have been a flop with the biggest successes in that area coming internally.
User Rank: Ninja
12/19/2012 | 4:51:28 PM
re: Google In 2013: 11 Predictions
Thanks for owning up to last year's predictions. Your results are about as good as throwing darts at a wall but at least you owned them.
Cara Latham
Cara Latham,
User Rank: Apprentice
12/18/2012 | 6:20:19 PM
re: Google In 2013: 11 Predictions
It will be interesting to see what develops with Google+ in 2013, especially with the "communities" feature that was recently launched. It may be enticing to some businesses/brands to use Google+ more frequently -- especially if these communities somehow factor into Google's algorithms and have an impact on SEO.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/17/2012 | 7:24:03 PM
re: Google In 2013: 11 Predictions
Android's rise vs. the iPhone has been one of the most interesting developments this year and will continue for the foreseeable future unless Apple does something big.

Jonathan Camhi, Associate Editor Bank Systems & Technology
Thomas Claburn
Thomas Claburn,
User Rank: Author
12/17/2012 | 6:25:41 PM
re: Google In 2013: 11 Predictions
Combining Google Play and the Chrome Web Store is an interesting idea, but as long as Android and Chrome OS remain distinct, I think that's going to be a hard sell. The real problem in all these stores is discovery and that gets worse when you consolidate online stores.

The same goes for a converged game destination. Google doesn't have a very good track record with games and is just starting to get it right with Niantic Labs. I think it will tread very warily in the game market because, like video content, it's really talent-driven and guessing hits is a tough business. Better to let the good stuff find its way to the surface on its own.
User Rank: Apprentice
12/17/2012 | 3:49:55 PM
re: Google In 2013: 11 Predictions
"Google says Google+ has 400 million registered users. Okay, so many of those are compulsory members, but Google insists it has 100 million active monthly users."

@Thomas, Google+ has 500 million members, 235 million active users across Google (as Facebook has 1 billion) and 135 million in the stream and mobile app only. Nice read and seems really accurate though.

My quick predictions:

1. Google will merge the Chrome Web Store with Google Play Store - one store for the whole Google ecosystem.

2. Google will launch 'Google Play Games', a game center which will be the unification of Google+ Games, Hangouts Games, Android Games and Chrome Web Store Games.

3. Google+ will have 1 billion members and 500 million active users.
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