I blank out when it comes to writing intros, so I’m diving into my thoughts straight ahead. Everyone talks about Google’s “far into the future” vision and how it’s one of the most brilliantly run companies ever. Reading the latest news about Google Goggles, Favorite Places, image search advancements and so on, got me thinking: I am imaging that a few Google employees sat down one afternoon, just before Christmas 2004 and one of them said:
“We’re Google. Let’s create a new market that no one can follow us into!”
And that’s what they’ve been doing for the past 5 years; creating a new market share that no one can compete with them at. Think about the timeline:
- February 8, 2005 - Google introduces Google Maps, and people go nuts, businesses & individuals pin themselves onto maps.
- June 28, 2005 - Google introduces Google Earth 3.0 after acquiring Keyhole, Inc - people loved it even more, and now maps are social. People pin point their favorite locations, Google has numbers of searches and views to know what’s popular and what’s not. Millions of locations are created by us, the users.
- May 29, 2007 - Google introduces Street View, taking hi-res photos of everything. This uses a brilliant hi-res camera. According to an old article published by CNet, this cost Google (back in 2007) $25 Billion!
- December 6, 2009 - 10 days ago, “We’re a favorite place on Google” was announced, with more than 100,000 businesses already enrolled based on the stats Google has from their Maps and Earth users.
- December 6, 2009 – Google also introduced Google Goggles, which allows you to take a picture of a location or a place and get reviews or more information about it. In other words: Search-By-Image.
Maps + Street View + Goggles = Google’s New Untouchable Search-By-Image Engine
The timeline shows the brilliant link to a new market: The Search-By-Image Engine, which Bing and Yahoo have no chance in fighting back! Let’s break it down into the building blocks:
- Google knows the places people like using the information they’ve gathered since 2005 from Google Maps and Google Earth.
- Google used it’s trusted-with-eyes-closed brand name to get 100,000 shops (or places as they call it) to put up the “We’re a favorite place on Google” sticker on their doors. Each of those has a unique stamp that works like a bar code to identify the place. Who’s the one and only company with access to this database? You guessed it… Google!
- Google decides to invest in a crazy adventure to take 360 degrees photos of all major city streets. But that’s the key point for the entire plan: Get people to think that the main idea here is to create 3D advertisements in the Street View virtual world, but what they’re actually doing is…
- What Google was actually doing is building a searchable database of photos of nearly everything so that they can become the first, one and only Search-By-Image Engine. That’s where Google Goggles kicks in.
Why does Competition c = 0?
You might ask: “But, what about Microsoft?“. Valid question, but do you think it will ever be a valid investment for Microsoft to mobilize hundreds or thousands of cars to go around the world, spending billions of dollars to just repeat what Google has? I don’t think so. Google has created a non-replicable database of Street View images. It’s non-replicable because it costs billions of dollars and years of time!
Let me sum up my thoughts. Google owns the following:
- Information about popular places from Google Maps and Google Earth.
- The database of unique stamp identifiers on the 100k favorite places stickers.
- The database of hi-res photos of all major cities around the world obtained for Street View, which costs billions to replicate.
Bottom line is this long-term plan put Google in sole control of this new search engine market segment: The search-by-image technology.
That’s management, not big shot bank managers getting bonuses out of government aids! Some questions pop to mind, though: Is this the monetized reason for Google Street View? Or is it their way of taking a big chunk of the mobile search and OS market?
Interesting further reading:
- Google’s Goggles: From Visual Search To Face Search. What’s Next? – Talking about search-by-sight and face recognition technologies.
- Modern Psychogeography & Street-Level Informationeering: Outlining My Hypothesis – Got some funny Street View pictures…
- Privacy implications have Google running scared – Taking a picture and recognising who’s Facebook profile that belongs to is definitely a scary thought!