Is Google Becoming A Hardware Company?

It can be difficult to (want to) expand a business once you have become the identified monopoly in an industry. Google made its name in completely digital products – coming to notoriety with its search engine and building from that base with Google Drive and other digital management programs.

Slowly but surely, Google has been building up its hardware infrastructure and product catalog to incorporate itself into as many digital markets as possible. Its mobile operating system, Android, is one of the major two operating systems used in all mobile phones of any brand. It is only natural that Google begin to move to the next step – create the hardware to place its own products in. As the company switches its focus to include hardware products, Google now has a hand in the entire digital vertical.

Even more quietly, Google has been housing these new hardware products under a totally new hardware division helmed by a hardware specialist, former Motorola head man Rick Osterloh. Osterloh is a master of both production and salesmanship. Not only will Google have the best stuff out, but everyone will be convinced to buy. If his industry track record is any indication, no one will be able to get away from Google in the very near future. Some might say that future is right now.

Basically, in order to be compatible with the rest of the world, you have to surrender your personal and financial information to Google at some point. You will have to submit to their terms of service, which they have been known to change without provocation or warning. Ask anyone who tries to monetize YouTube videos or deals with Google ads. Google Maps satellites and cars already have the ability to point out your location to anyone across the world from miles away. Should Google ever feel the need to sell or share this information for any reason, the average person is simply out of luck.

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Google is also developing the AI that will create all but autonomous pieces of hardware. Yes, that Google Nest stack and those Google Cameras work for us now, but what if they build so much intelligence that they decide on their own that their decisions shouldn’t necessarily involve your inputs anymore? It sounds like science fiction, but the beginnings are upon us. Google is now helping Rolls Royce develop the first self driving supership. The Cloud Machine Learning Engine with the ominous sounding “object based identification technology” will eventually find its way into the Internet of Things, meaning it will eventually control your thermostat, refrigerator, air conditioning, fire alarm and carbon monoxide indicator. How comforting.

As Google takes over the world, will the concept of privacy completely disappear? Will you have to submit your entire self to this central entity just to partake in modern amenities?

There are some watchdog groups that attempt, every now and again, to write a white paper about Internet privacy or pass a standard to regulate the terms of service of the big tech companies. Google, along with Facebook, Apple, Amazon and virtually every other monopolistic entity in the digital world simply steamroll those ideas whenever they feel like it. The record €2.4bn fine that Google received from the EU is literally a drop in the bucket to the company that  makes $658 every second.

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Can anything be done before Google cements its hold on the world’s hardware in the same way that it has for software and operating systems? Legitimate competition is truthfully out of the question – Google is an acquisition master, able to offer purveyors of new technologies more money than they have ever seen in their lives. Another alternative is to roll back progress, and no one wants that. Perhaps the answer is to ensure that the regulatory agencies that protect the average person are growing at the same rate as the technology. While Google is investing in its hardware, we all need to be investing in the infrastructure that will contain and control it.

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2 Replies to “Is Google Becoming A Hardware Company?”

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