I thought it was time we joined in all the speculation about what Google's grand vision is, especially as I'm increasingly convinced that, unlike Microsoft, they really "get" what's happening vis a vis mobile technology.
If you haven't been following recent events, let me start by summarising some of the key ones recently:
Google Talk takes them into VoIP. This means that they can offer free (or cheap) phone calls to anyone with a net connection.
This includes people connected to public or paid-for wifi connections. It also includes calls via a PC, or with a phone capable of hooking up via wifi. There's already models that can do this (Nokia's brick-like Communicator, as an example) and a lot more expected soon, subject to operators agreeing to distribute them.
Om Malik wrote a Business 2.0 story, which is a fine piece of investigative journalism and deduction. Om suggests that some of Google's recent moves indicate that they're planning (get this) to offer free wifi access to everyone in America. I know it might sound far fetched, but Om explains how it's possible and I certainly think it's more than plausible.
Google likes to think big and how much bigger can you get than becoming everyone's ISP and phone provider?
Google is about to raise another $4 billion by selling 14.159265 million shares. What do they need this kind of money for? Something big, obviously.
In case you missed the story or the point, the number of shares is based on the first eight numbers making up Pi. Clever or smug?
Google is about to launch Google Wallet, to compete with PayPal, based on numerous rumours. Again, I think this will happen. It's a great market opportunity that PayPal has had to itself for far too long. Enough people hate PayPal to flock to a rival offering, especially if it was run by Google. I've had a few run-ins with PayPal myself, so I'll shed no tears if they get done over.
But Wallet also offers their advertisers a way of charging for goods and services, especially for micropayments, where credit card charges are usurious (c 30% for transactions costing $1, for instance).
Google have also just announced plans to move into offline media, by buying up adspace at wholesale prices and selling to its advertisers for a better price than they could get on their own.
So they're exploring the offline world now.
Google has already launched a form of local search, based on sms.
OK, so that's some of the key trends and clearly, there's probably a lot else happening at Mountain View that we're not privy to - either by announcement or rumour and gossip.