--> Gill Blog: Google and its Role in Katrina Relief

Gill Blog

Wednesday, September 07, 2005

Google and its Role in Katrina Relief

Google Hurricane Katrina Resources has come to the rescue of many people searching for missing loved ones through a modified version of its ubiquitous search engine. The latest online tool powered by Google is this service that lets users determine water depth values in the flooded areas of New Orleans.

Leave it to Google to use one of the biggest news stories in recent memory to serve notice to the world that not only are they right in the thick of things to provide help to those who need it, but that they are indeed a force to be reckoned with. Make no mistake about it: Google is everywhere. This is interesting, because a week or so ago I was about to blog the emergence of Google and not only how their innovations lend to the notion of decentralized workplaces, but that they are also poised to become the new Microsoft.

I heard a piece on NPR recently that discussed this very notion. One of the main guests during this segment was Ben Elgin from BusinessWeek who carefully pieced together the elements of what could be called nothing short of a world domination strategy. Google has moved beyond search engines into a number of new and exciting spaces that represent huge growth areas on the net. A sampling of these includes Google Earth, Blogger, Google Desktop, Gmail and Google Talk. The recent launch of Google Talk, the newest entrant in the red-hot instant messaging space says much about the company’s confidence.

What makes Google Talk particularly interesting is that there really is nothing proprietary about the technology, as the service is being introduced not on the basis of technology, but more on the its being launched under a very powerful brand. It’s no wonder that analysts have described this as Google’s first pure muscle play. Google’s flurry of recent activity is just a pre-cursor to what lies ahead. In the middle of August, Google quietly acquired Android, a Silicon Valley-based company thought to be focused on the development of mobile phone software. From a piece Ben Elgin recently posted on BusinessWeek Online:
In what could be a key move in its nascent wireless strategy, Google (GOOG ) has quietly acquired startup Android Inc., BusinessWeek Online has learned. The 22-month-old startup, based in Palo Alto, Calif., brings to Google a wealth of talent, including co-founder Andy Rubin, who previously started mobile-device maker Danger Inc.

Android has operated under a cloak of secrecy, so little is known about its work. Rubin & Co. have sparingly described the outfit as making software for mobile phones, providing little more detail than that. One source familiar with the company says Android had at one point been working on a software operating system for cell phones.

This acquisition has led many to believe that Google could in fact play a big role in pushing for smarter mobile devices that could deploy a mobile version of Google within handhelds. The implications of this could be mind-boggling.

Mr. Elgin had also mentioned that Google has been hiring lots of folks to build operating systems, and this includes several key people who worked on Microsoft’s .NET initiative, as well as people who worked in developing the Mozilla browser – the main competitor to Microsoft Explorer. Combine that with the rumors that have Google buying up a ton of dark fiber routes (something that might suggest Google may want to build their own internet backbone), and you start to see the makings of something potentially quite large. Could it be that Google is positioning itself to actually be the next Microsoft? The mere fact that they are hiring a bunch of OS guys suggests that Google might very well be developing an operating system for the internet at a very powerful level, and much the way Microsoft did for PCs.

There's certainly more to say about this, but I'll just gather my thoughts before posting again, and ultimately tying it all back to Workplace Continuity.