Whither Google?

I wanted to say only the Shadow knows but that may be reaching too far back culturally. Google’s dizzying expansion in multiple directions has outsiders’ heads spinning as they try to make sense of the moves. One aspect that keeps people guessing: the large percentage of Google products that bubble up from lower-level Googlers making the most of their 20-percent personal research time.
The diversity of products and services only adds to the external confusion. But Google execs insist its simple: Marissa Mayer tells USA Today, “We started with one of the easiest places to organize, websites. Given our talents and skills, now we’re moving to other areas of information, like books, video and photographs.” But Google also is exploring free WiFi distribution, secure WiFi access, delivering video content, Google Groups, Blogger, social networking, etc. — efforts that may incorporate search but aren’t explicitly connected to search or even to organization.
Sergey Brin popped up as a surprise guest at Web 2.0. (You may recall, he was a surprise visitor to the national cable show, too, and gave an impromptu press conference.) From Kareem Mayan’s excellent notes: Brin continues to insist “we believe in sending folks to other sites. We’re not about trying to create our own content to keep people on Google, we’re about sending them off.” Given the number of new Google-centric products that should increase Google’s own stickiness, I think it’s time the company admitted its current strategy encompasses both.

Another USAT story compares the stock performance for Google and Chinese Baidu. Fun with numbers for some, none for others.