By Brian O’Connor for Style + Tech For Men
“Google is disruptive in the marketplace, and they’ll continue to try to solve complex problems,” says Wade Beavers, CEO of Minnesota-based DoApp, a Web and mobile application development company.
One Google solution will change the way we access the Internet. Responding to the fact that the United States ranks 15th in the world for average Internet connection speed, Google lit a fire under us all when it announced it would outfit Kansas City, Kansas, with ultra-high-speed, fiber-optic connections, enabling citywide Wi-Fi. Now they’re looking at a possible nationwide rollout.
With Internet speeds expected to multiply 100 times faster than current hookups, Google may just bring Kansas City and the rest of the country into the 21st century.
“People are limited to the choice of a local cable provider or DSL,” says Beavers. “If Google gets into the pipe business, it’ll mean the costs of Internet service will go down, or it might even be free.” Not surprisingly, Beavers thinks the public will be interested in that possibility.
“In the future, if you can get high-speed Internet from Google for $15 a month, or free, and in return, all you have to do is look at some ads, wouldn’t you do it?” he asks.
They’ve already given us Google TV, allowing users to access the entire Web on their tubes. Next, the Android SDK app will enable users to wield a smartphone as a remote control. But will it end there?
Not by a long shot. Google already employs cloud-based technology to store data for its Gmail and Google Doc customers, but the company is set to unveil technology to provide users with a la carte downloads, music sharing, and a cloud-based “digital locker” where they can store their tunes for $25 a year.
Unlike other music-streaming sites like Rhapsody, MOG, and Napster, Google’s service would allow users to share their library with their friends, who could also listen to each song once without having to buy it. With most other existing music services, users can only listen to short snippets of a song before buying (usually 30 seconds or less).
Google’s cloud-based music service is another example of its recognition that the future of personal computing will be conducted not in front of a desktop, but on a smartphone.
“They will mature the mobile experience,” says Igor Faletski of Vancouver-based Mobify.com, a company that optimizes websites for mobile devices. “You’ll see greater utilization of location-based applications, like Google Maps and Google Earth, to take advantage of the fact that most people will make their purchasing decisions while they’re mobile.”
Google Maps’ Street View allows users to visit places they’ve never seen, but in the future we’ll be able to shop in places we’ve never been. Recently, Google started accepting applications from businesses to have their store interiors and sales floors photographed, eventually enabling consumers to go “in the door” and experience the store with a panoramic view — to inspire and assist further virtual purchases.
“It’s a 3-D image of anywhere in the world,” says Faletski. “And that’s in keeping with their vision of the world two, five or 10 years from now — it’s about cutting-edge innovation and user experience, because that’s what they’re passionate about.”
Brian O’Connor is a print and online journalist. He is a former contributing editor at Men’s Fitness and executive editor at Genre. He has also written for Slate, San Francisco Weekly and the New York Daily News, among other publications.