Google Search Trends - Q1 2015

Every so often it's important to look at what people are searching for on the web. This is a new type of report for Tech Bytes, and something that will be examined every quarter - either with new keywords or old ones. 

The momentum of interest for wearable computing (especially smartwatches), home automation, and the internet of things has really picked up over the last six years, and there is a definite upward trend for Google searches.

However, it's important to note that we are still in the early stages of the industry when we are talking about mobile technology other than smartphones and tablets. If we compare the the above search terms to say the term "smartphone," this becomes very obvious. Smartphones are still overwhelmingly the most popular mobile technology, and this is reflected by the number of searches for smartphones.

So why is this the case? Well, wearable computers are still just companion devices. They are luxury goods. Until a new fitness revolution comes about, or radically new communication and navigation technologies are developed and implemented, it is likely that people will prioritize smartphones above all else. 

A comparable scenario is the current state of the tablet market. Worldwide tablet sale growth is down again, and Apple in particular is expected to ship fewer iPads. Does this mean that tablets are dead? No, of course not. It just means that - for most people who are on a limited budget - a smartphone is a "one size fits all" device that does most tasks "ok." Tablets like the iPad are expensive, so they are less appealing and are often viewed as "in between" devices. Wearable computing is the same.

The exception to this is home automation and the Internet of Things (IoT). We have been teased with this technology for a long time - probably ever since we were Shown Bill Gates' automated home ten years ago. Also, the connected home and connected world tie into the smartphone market, as many of these devices (the Phillips Hue lighting system for example) can be controlled by your phone or tablet. It is possible that interest in home automation and the IoT will surpass the wearables market, since the success of these products is more closely linked to the success of the smartphone.

Google "closing in" on the unified experience

Following Google's earnings calls meeting, Larry Page noted that the company was "closing in" on their unified product experience, writes Liz Gannes of All Things D.

 The takeaway from Google’s satisfactory/meets expectations third-quarter financial results, full as it was of details about traffic acquisition cost bumps and amortization expenses, was actually about the unification of products, according to Google CEO Larry Page’s investor statement. “We are closing in on our goal of a beautiful, simple, and intuitive experience regardless of your device.”

Surprising, Page said that he will not be at all future earnings talks, stressing that his attention was needed elsewhere, but he did have some interesting departing words.

“For years, everyone talked about the multiscreen world. Now it’s arrived, but on a scale few imagined,” says Page. He mentions phones, computers, the home, watches, on Google Glass. (Oh boy, watch mention only a few sentences in. That’ll get people stoked.)

Android sees 1.5 million devices lit up every day, Page says, and he loves Chrome too. But recharging is too much of a sweat.

There were a few interesting questions and reports regarding Google's progress in voice recognition, mobile advertising, self-driving cars, and project loon. The overall feeling from the earnings call is that Google is on the right path, and will continue to tighten and integrate is services across all platforms. 

Check out the full transcript in the source. 

Sources: All Things D

 

Google's economic impact

Google released it's Economic Impact report, which quantifies how much money its advertising tools made for businesses, web publishers, and non-profits across the United States. Hovering the cursor over each state reveals how much money was made, in addition to some other factoids in parentheses. Clicking brings you to a page with more information about that state, including testimonials from business owners.

Google economic impact: Illinois! 

It's hard to argue with Google's numbers, and the company has been very transparent about its recent activities (especially when compared to Apple and Microsoft). While the self-publishing of economic activity and impact is nothing new, it's likely that we will see and increasing number of reports like this in the coming months and years. Many of the Silicon Valley companies are desperately trying to offset the swarm of controversies surrounding privacy (most notably the NSA spying leaks), labor concerns, and tax avoidance. 

If anything, it shows that public controversy and consumer demands has led to greater transparency about how these companies operate - a positive change to be sure. 

View Google's report by clicking on the source below.