Last month we attending the excellent biannual Brighton SEO. Among the many impressive presenters, Ian Miller looked at the future of Google.

Some of the themes covered below will be familiar to anyone who has read Dave Eggers’ prescient novel ‘The Circle’ – a fictional account of a technology company that has terrifying ambitions.


Google wants to anticipate, not answer

Search is changing the whole time, but Google’s goal has moved from simply delivering the answers to your search queries.

Instead it wants to anticipate your search queries.  And it is achieving this by gathering huge amounts of data.

Five ways that Google gathers data

As well as a 68% share of the US search market (and 89% of the UK market), Google is constantly gathering data:

  • 85% of all smart phones use Android
  • 80% of websites use Google Analytics
  • Chrome has a 60% share of the browser market
  • Gmail has 10% share of the email market
  • Google operates the wifi across 7000 Starbucks stores


Five Google Diversifications

In addition to the huge amount of data Google has access to, it is also acquiring new companies that deliver even more information about our habits and lifestyles:

  1. Titan Aerospace

Earlier this year Google acquired this maker of jet-sized drones that are designed to fly nonstop for years.

High resolution pictures of the earth can be used to predict crop yields and to monitor business activity.  The company has also announced ‘Project Loon’ – which aims to deploy stratospheric balloons to deliver internet access to remote areas.

In June, they announced plans to spend $1-3 billion to launch a fleet of internet satellites. Google has no interest in waiting for governments to set up the infrastructure to make the internet possible, there’s money to be made by creating greater access now.


  1. Waze

This Israeli mapping service was bought for $1.3 billion in June.  Waze has accumulated 50 million users who share real-time traffic information and also enable you to track your friends online.

  1. The Google Self-Driving Car

Google driver-less cars have already created a lot of attention. Testing has shown that they are safe to use and there are significant advantages for disabled and aging users in particular.  Evidently all use can be tracked, so Google will be able to monitor users’ movements and travel patterns.

  1. Google Shopping Express

In the States, Google has been testing and operating a shopping service very similar to Amazon.

  1. Skybox Imaging

Another acquisition from earlier this year, $500m has given Google access to Skybox’s satellite to give it another option for taking high-altitude high-definition photos and video, dovetailing perfectly with the Titan purchase.

This is only the tip of the iceberg – there’s also Nest ($3.2 billion acquisition), the much vaunted Google Glass, wifi camera Dropcam – and more.

None of this is pure search…

So what is Google trying to achieve?

Sergei Brin has spoken of the desire that ‘information will just come to you as you need it’.   This is more than Search, this is Google planning to be your ‘cybernetic friend’.

Google is a data platform

Google is not a search engine, Google is a data platform, collecting a vast amount of data to enable it to have a view of the world larger than merely search.

This is a company that doesn’t want to be a Kodak, a Nokia or a Yahoo – Google is trying to future-proof who they are and who they will be.

As Ian Miller put it: “Google used to be a technology company funded by advertising. Now it’s an advertising company that uses technology.”