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Google: Initiatives and Challenges in 2014

September 29, 2014 Leave a comment Go to comments
Google Logo

Logo of Google Inc.

Google forayed into other search related other sectors like videos, books and has been successful. Gmail has become synonymous to email today. It later entered into OS for mobile handset with the Android and is already ready to become the number one operating system in less than 5 years of its existence.

The company has been making efforts to bring Internet to every corner of the world (via floating balloons) and taking wearable technology to the next level. This year it kickstarted another ambitious project with an aim to rule the Smartphone market.

Here have a look at Google initiatives and the new challenges it is facing from competitors today.

YouTube to go offline in 2014

The popular website was bought by Google in October 2006 and Google chose to maintain it as a separate brand. This video sharing website reached 1 billion unique users every month by March this year. This means one out of every two people who use Internet go for YouTube.

Google has new plans for countries like India that are looked as growing market for telecom products, mobile handsets (even after very low Internet penetration). The company is planning to launch the YouTube Offline services in India as (1) the reach of Internet is low (2) and adoption of Smartphones is high.

This is Google’s second attempt to be a part of online video and audio industry in India. In middle of 2013, Google Music India, a service that allowed people to search for music by names of artists, movies, albums or song titles was shut down in India. This was just a ‘Lab products’, that is testing product. So, our hopes were on the Google Play Music. This service started rolling out services to European countries (the service was rolled out in 20 countries) last year in October, but India was excluded from the list.

Google's Android One

Google’s Android One

Cheap phones and Android One

Google has changed the market of Smartphones once dominated by Apple and Nokia. The free operating system from the company which is yet to complete 5 years of its existence has pushed the prices of handsets to a further low. Companies have been able to offer Android Smartphones as low as Rs 4000 in the market today.

But this caused a challenge for Google as rolling out of OS updates was difficult and the standard of phones that were available at lower price points. “The company has no direct control over key parts of Android, such as device design, manufacturing, marketing, and distribution” points out Quartz. This is where Google decided to play around and launch Android One. These low cost handsets have been launched in India this year.

But at the same time the Google does not seem to be in a mood to snap ties on the Nexus phones and tablets. The company is rumoured to be launching the new Nexus 6 phablet and Nexus 9 tablet this year, as the successor of the Nexus 5 and Nexus 4, but at premium costs that will compete with the premium iPhones and other Android phones.

But they face immense competition from Samsung, Xiaomi, Apple iPhones, Mozilla and other low-cost handset manufacturers like Datawind. Samsung has already announced Tizen based handsets before Diwali this year, while Datawind is also planning ultra-low cost phones this year. Xiaomi is already creating waves and selling like hot cakes in the Indian market. Though iPhone is yet to come to India, it will definitely grab the top position because of its premium brand value. Even Microsoft is also not planning to sit quite, the company recently acquired Nokia Windows handset manufacturer and is planning to go more aggressive in the Indian market.

Now the Motorola has already made a mark in the market and will soon going to the Lenovo shed, there is no reason that Lenovo does not continue the Moto journey onwards. These handsets will also compete with the Android One and Nexus phones.

Free voice calls and the messaging apps factor

Google offered low cost voice calling facility (video calling also) using Gmail email service that uses a simple microphone or a headphone from a computer in 2010. This came as a benefit to those who need not use a phone and spend huge amount of money for making calls.

But after an increasing trend of the adoption of Smartphones the company in 2014 introduced free voice calls support in its Hangouts IM service for Android, iOS and the web. The free calls service is applicable on making calls to numbers in the U.S. and Canada, and mentions that the international rates would be low. In 2014 Lok Sabha Elections this year, this free service played a huge role in connecting the population to their leaders.

But the service today stands challenged by Facebook, other free voice call/video call services over the Internet. Whatsapp, WeChat, Viber, Line with free voice calling, message and image sharing features are quite popular in India. These are challenging Google to find more innovative ways to gain traction.

Cloud storage

Google took free cloud stage to a different level with the Google Docs that now have been translated into Google Drive. It’s a new way to create, share, collaborate and keep your files – including videos, photos, Google Docs and PDFs – all in one place and access it anywhere in the world.

Microsoft is now prepping up its OneDrive cloud services and DropBox is also surging ahead as more and more people adopt these services to connect the documents in computer, tablets and mobile phones. OneDrive announced free 30 GB for iPhones, Android and Windows phones. It initially offered 15 GB free storage, which is same as what Google Drive offered.

Tomorrow Satya Naella, new Microsoft CEO is expected to come to India to talk about cloud services and enterprise solutions for India and Indian businesses. The company is focussing on cloud services and mobile this year. This might pose a challenge to Google.

Driverless Car prototype

Driverless Car prototype

Driverless cars, Google isn’t the only company interested

Google might have started the ambitious project of driverless ‘smart’ cars that could talk to each other and find their ways on road, it isn’t the only company doing this.

Google this year showed off a prototype of the Google car which sported Tata Nano-kind looks. The cars this year received permit to be tested on real roads in California. The rules will come to effect from September 16 and are now for the testing period. There is a need a human with a valid driver’s license to be in the driver’s seat and capable of taking wheel at any moment in the rules. READ another story by me Flying cars in 2017, driverless cars in 2018 : Future is indeed bright

Nokia too is planning to invest a huge amount on intelligent cars. The company has announced a USD 100 million Connected Car fund to be managed by Nokia Growth Partners (NGP). The fund will identify and invest in companies whose innovations will be important for a world of connected and intelligent vehicles.

The Chinese search giant Baidu is planning to make one to answer Google. This won’t be completely a driverless car and the idea does sounds logical. A car without a steering wheels, makes the driver fully depend on the intelligence of the car, Baidu wants to give a chance to the driver, to make use of the human intelligence then depending on the car solely. The company will produce a prototype in 2015.

Land Rover is testing new ‘see-through’ augmented reality view of the terrain ahead in cars and LG gave a glimpse of flexible oled lights for BMW cars. Toshiba too is testing such cars and smart home concepts.

Read the full story here


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