Is Google taking over the world?

November 11, 2014 : TECHFacebooktwittergoogle_plusredditlinkedinmail

Is Google taking over the world

Most people might like to use January as an opportunity to make some changes to their lifestyle, or maybe cut their spending to pay for the Christmas period and start building up a pot for their summer holiday. But not if you're Google, as the US internet giant has decided to kick off 2014 by dropping $3.2 billion (£2 billion) on a company almost nobody had heard of called Nest Labs.

So what does Nest Labs do to be worthy of this huge deal? If you guessed 'thermostats', come and claim your prize – but we bet you didn't. The deal may seem an oddity for a company like Google, but it's actually just another piece of its plan to instil itself at the heart of everyone's lives.

If you remember when it was just a search engine and you got puzzled looks from non-tech savvy friends when you declared you were going to 'Google' something, you'll appreciate how far it's come. Now it's a company that makes driverless cars, send balloons into space, builds some of the world's fastest fibre broadband networks and even wants to influence your fashion sense.

It's everywhere

Millions of us now rely on Google to manage our lives – whether we realise it or not. If you own a Samsung mobile phone, you're most likely using Google's Android operating system. The same is true if you've got a HTC. Or an Sony. Or an LG. You get the picture.

What this means is Google sees a huge opportunity to position itself as a single hub that can take control of all aspects of your everyday life via the palm of your hand.

Time magazine likened its vision to "something not entirely unlike The Jetsons". It forecast that in a couple of years, the Android-powered phone in your pocket will be able to control kitchen appliances, lock your doors and windows, switch the lights off and set the temperature. Quite a change from when being able to read emails on the move was a novelty.

With this in mind, suddenly the acquisition of Nest Labs starts to make more sense. And it's unlikely to be the last major buyout Google makes in the next few years as it aims to make this vision a reality.

What will it mean for us?

Naturally, this growing dominance of the technology that runs our lives is making some people uneasy. And whether it's forced Google+ integration if you want to leave a YouTube comment or investments such as its recent buyout of military-grade robotics maker Boston Dynamics, there's a growing sense that Google is positioning itself as some sort of technological overlord that it will be impossible to avoid in the future.

Famously, Google's motto is 'don't be evil', though some consumers are becoming more sceptical of this. Privacy is now one of the biggest issues being raised when people talk about the firm. 

This isn't anything new, as concerns were raised as far back as 2007, when its Street View service was launched. Subsequent revelations that its camera cars were collecting people's Wi-Fi data harmed the firm, but there's still doubt as to whether it's learned its lesson.

Changing perspectives

These are concerns that Google will have to address if it wants to see its dream for an always-connected future become a reality – and how it communicates these to customers will be important.

Technology analyst Benedict Evans told the BBC recently: "There is a gap between how Google sees itself and how its actions sometimes come across. Part of Google's problem is they tend to think 'we know we're not going to do anything unpleasant with it, so you should just understand that'."

So even if Google isn't engaged in some elaborate Bond villain-esque scheme to take over the world by putting Android in our cars and getting us all to use its preferred social network, getting people to believe its intentions are good will be the key challenge for the firm if it wants us to buy into its vision.

This entry was posted in TECH and tagged on by sarahstooks
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