Google, the unassuming innovator

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Since its beginnings in 1998, Google has transformed markets, business and social behaviour irrevocably for an entire generation. We are now programmed to ‘search’ before we do almost everything.

Google has developed beyond just being a search engine. It has created an ecosystem with the web browser as its backbone to become the modern day innovator with an array of much hyped tech products. Last week we saw Google Glass push the boundaries of technology with the example of the surgeon who became the first in the UK to use wearable tech during an operation. Next up is the Chromebook which is changing the dynamics and fortunes of the computing market.

The Chromebook is a laptop-shaped version of Google in every sense and is fast edging in on the traditional Microsoft PC and Apple Mac territory synonymous with remote computing with the support of high profile hardware vendors like Acer and Toshiba and chipsets from Intel.

Google is good at this. Chrome is without doubt becoming the internet browser of choice, superseding the likes of  Explorer, Firefox etc. Alongside this sits Google Maps, Images, Translate, Street view, Earth and YouTube – all Google businesses and applications that have become synonymous with a whole generation. Think vinyl to CD’s to MP3, our usage of internet based products and services are the only thing a generation has understood. And don’t forget Android, the mobile platform, which leads the global smartphone market. Unconsciously, people are affiliated with Google through Android – powered phones and therefore it is becoming part of the fabric of their lives. Google has become the unassuming innovator.

What is interesting about the Chromebook is that rather than trying to emulate the PC, its function has been developed in recognition of the most common use of a device – to interface with the internet, not work with the internet. It can’t help but shake up the PC market by creating its own category in the same way that streaming is overtaking DVD and BluRay.

There is no longer such a demand for an immobile desktop anymore and without doubt tablets are dominating sales, but many people still want to be able to do more than tap into apps. Latest figures from Canalys noted that tablets continued to outsell notebooks during the quarter, accounting for 41% of the market compared to 38%. There was a growth in PC sales of five per cent, while the tablet market saw 21% growth during the three month period up to March. This, however, is a significant decline from the 65% growth in the last quarter. Google is strident in its mission to flip what seems to be a flailing market upside down, offering everything you’d use a tablet for but offering more capability and with the convenience of a keyboard.

Chromebook is likely to build a loyal following, and, as Google has done with Android, the Chromebook is already naturally sliding into the line-up of traditional PC brands, suggesting that consumers will unconsciously become advocates of Google and the brand whilst still owning both a PC and a tablet.

Last week Google and Intel announced several new Chromebooks from Acer, Asus, Dell, Lenovo and Toshiba, acknowledging the opportunity Chromebook offers these brands as a category. Brand partnerships will continue to push Google’s brand to new consumers, as demonstrated by research firm NPD, Chrome OS computers accounted for 24% of sales of PCs under 300 dollars in the US over the first three months of the year. It has been predicted by market analyst Gartner that sales will reach 4.79 million worldwide in 2014 and for this appetite to rise by 66% next year.

Google is earning itself its seat on the world stage as a powerful global tech innovator. Far from resting on its laurels, the business continues to surprise and delight. Combine the giddy excitement in the face of their development of self-driving cars, with their CSR credentials in developing balloons carrying Internet access to developing countries  – and we have a brand that is quietly, and unashamedly changing the face of technology and how we interface with it, what’s not to love about Google.

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