Google has been looming large over the Internet landscape for nearly a decade. Ever since it went public, it has been quick to expand and diversify its services and widen its reach. Today, it is no longer just the dominant player in the search engine game, but a full-blown software corporation, responsible for many new innovations.
Google now offers services for online productivity, such as Gmail (email) and Google Docs, which provides web-based office suite alternatives to Microsoft Word, Excel and Powerpoint for free. They also have the photo editing and organizing application Picasa, and the web browser Chrome. However, for small businesses, Google’s biggest impact lies with their contributions to mobile devices and e-commerce.
In 2007, Google along with a number of mobile handset makers, application developers, some mobile carriers and chip makers formed the Open Handset Alliance (OHA). OHA is the consortium that developed the software now known as Android. Android is on an open source license and competes against mobile platforms from Apple, Blackberry and Nokia, allowing companies such as Samsung and LG to thrive. Market, their answer to the iPhone App Store, is also providing opportunities for developers to develop apps for devices running on Android.
To compliment Android, Google developed Wallet. Google Wallet is a mobile payment system that allows its users to store credit cards, loyalty cards, and gift cards among other things, as well as redeeming sales promotions on their mobile phone. It was released in late 2011, and is currently available on a number of devices in selected areas only, over certain MasterCard PayPass merchant locations and on Visa’s payWave.
But the even bigger news is that Google Wallet is now available online as well, providing an alternative to the Paypal ecommerce service for online vendors, auction sites, and other commercial users.
The Google Wallet was designed as an “open” platform. Payment networks, carriers, and banks have been invited to join and participate in the system. Google won’t charge users nor merchants for access to Wallet, and plans to make money by offering sponsored ads to their users.
What will be next for Google?