Glass, orbs, a tablet, what’s next? Why Google has to keep moving

There were, as Brandon Bailey of the Mercury News reported, sky divers. Wearing Google Glass. A sphere-shaped entertainment console made in the U.S. of A. called Nexus Q. The widely expected Nexus 7 tablet. Search king Google’s version of Siri. And there could be more to come, for Google I/O, which kicked off yesterday, isn’t over yet.

Larry Page returned to the Google CEO position more than a year ago, vowing to bring focus and to put “more wood behind fewer arrows.” Google’s social-networking moves, in particular, have been criticized as a deplorable mandate that’s taking over the company. (See Ex talk:… Going negative on Google+) But coverage of Google’s annual developers conference only underscores the fact that the company isn’t just going after Facebook. It’s also going after, of course, Apple. And and Microsoft and Roku and Sonos and more. If this is focus, it’s wide-angle focus.

Om Malik at GigaOm and Rocky Agrawal for VentureBeat list Google’s many rivals, and what the company’s newly announced offerings might mean for them. Agrawal says, for example, that the Nexus 7 tablet’s threat to Apple and Microsoft’s tablets are moderate, while the threat to Amazon’s Kindle Fire is high. Malik brings up the “human cost” of Google’s multi-front battle: “It has all the money in the world, but despite tens of thousands of employees, it lacks the star power to win on all fronts. Google no longer has a monopoly on attracting great talent to its team.”

Still, Google has no choice but to try. In this age of tech companies as ecosystems, it has to fight Fire with Nexus, iOS with Android, Facebook with Google+. Did it have to roll out the Nexus Q, which Agrawal and others are saying is too expensive to compete with the streaming-music system from Sonos? Is Glass a geek toy that won’t amount to anything — by the way, the idea of wearable computing is nothing new; for example, my colleague Pete Carey wrote for the Mercury News in August 1991 that Lee Felsenstein, one of the designers of the Osborne portable computer, showed him “a small device extending in front of the eyes from a set of headphones, and there seemed to be a fairly large, readable red-on-black computer screen inside it” — or does it represent Google’s future, as TechCrunch’s Peter Ha writes?

There will be hits and misses, but they aren’t sitting still at the Googleplex. There are too many cautionary tales to point to — once-high-flying companies such as Nokia, Sony, Research in Motion and Yahoo, which failed to act quickly enough or innovate enough.


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  • I think Apple need to calm down on their grip of patents, it is killing competition which is what makes companies to push the boundries of creation.