2007 Top Ten: Googly Moments
But just because a company gets lots of good press doesn't mean everything it does is worth a damn. So what did Google do in 2007 that was truly remarkable? We made a list of ten things we think stand out as interesting and relevant to the broader world of next-gen communications:
10. To the Moon, Sergey!
Is there anywhere Google won't go? It's a fair question after Google sponsored the Lunar X Prize Competition, offering $20 million to anyone who could land a "privately funded robotic rover on the moon."
The winning moon rover must be capable of "completing several mission objectives, including roaming the lunar surface for at least 500 meters and sending video, images, and data back to the Earth." So, yes, it's far out. But definitely a communications story.
9. One Phone Number, Any Device
Google made a number of acquisitions in 2007, but one of those with the most potential is unified communications startup GrandCentral Communications . The company allows subscribers to choose any phone -- be it landline or mobile -- to ring when a single number is called, and enables users to set up rules determining which devices should ring depending on who is calling. The GrandCentral system also allows users to converge their voicemail inboxes into a single account that can be accessed from any device or via the Web.
While the service is still in beta, there are limitless possibilities for how Google can integrate GrandCentral's unified communications into its email and messaging services, and eventually its wireless initiatives. (See Google Buys Unified Services Startup.)
8. It's Not Easy (Or Cheap) Being Green
In November, Google said it would pour millions of dollars into a strategic initiative to develop renewable energy sources in an effort to create electricity cheaper than that produced from coal. The initiative, awkwardly dubbed RE < C (Renewable Energy Cheaper Than Coal), will focus on solar power, wind power, enhanced geothermal systems, and other technologies, and will cost the company tens of millions of dollars in 2008.
Of course, Google is really no more Earth-friendly than, say, Wal-Mart. Each company wants to lower its cost of running a huge business. Wal-Mart's freezer lights have motion sensors to help whittle down its soaring electricity costs. Google's RE < C will help do the same for its huge data center farms.
7. Deep Sea Diving
Google's plan to join a consortium of carriers, including Asia Netcom and Telstra Corp. Ltd. (ASX: TLS; NZK: TLS), in laying a submarine cable in the Pacific Ocean is one of the company's several infrastructure investments of note. Earlier, Google has bought dark fiber, peered with telcos and ISPs, made a play for wireless networks, and invested in powerline technology. In this case, Google is seeking low-cost access to a fast-growing market, and giving it an opportunity to peer directly with, and offer managed services to, ISPs in Asia. (See Google's Building Unity Underseas.)
6. Femtocell Fantasies
Google expanded its wireless initiative in July with a strategic investment in 3G home base-station maker Ubiquisys Ltd. The search giant was part of a $25 million Series B financing round with existing VCs Accel Partners , Advent Ventures , and Atlas Venture . The cash splash gives Google visibility into wireless and home networks, according to Heavy Reading analyst Gabriel Brown. And it could enable subscribers to use their handsets as local area connections on a home network, access the Internet from a mobile carrier, and launch applications on other home devices. (See Google Invests in 3G Startup.)
Next Page: Google World Domination Continues