In the space of just a few short years, Google knocked Microsoft off its throne to become arguably the world's most powerful - possibly the most feared - technology company with involvement in a vast array of different areas. The company describes its mission as "to develop services that significantly improve the lives of as many people as possible". To that end it has built upon its core offering to spin out a kaleidoscope of additional services, ranging from global mapping and Android mobile software to healthcare research and driverless cars. Uniquely, for now at least, virtually all its add-ons are free to use, paid for by the awe-inspiring success of the company's advertising programme. Google may not be the world's biggest online company by revenues (that's still Amazon) but it's the most valuable by far with a market value of over $460bn by mid 2015. Yet Google's position at the top of the digital advertising tree is under threat from an even faster-growing business, Facebook. At the same time, its steps into hardware development have so far been patchy. In 2011, the group took steps to monetise Android by acquiring one of its first licensors, US handset manufacturer Motorola. Less than two years later, though, it sold that business on to Lenovo of China after failing to boost performance. Its Google Glass computer-powered eyewear also failed to find a ready audience. In 2015, the group announced plans to restructure, splitting out its more fanciful research-based operations as separate units under the umbrella of new parent company Alphabet Inc.
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Adbrands Weekly Update 22nd Dec 2016: Google parent Alphabet Inc unveiled an intriguing new commercial venture under the umbrella of its self-driving car division, recently spun out as an autonomous business unit under the brand Waymo. Although it already operates around 60 self-driving test minicars in a handful of US cities, the company recently indicated that it was leaning towards licensing deals with other manufacturers rather than the creation of its own automobile brand. The first such venture was announced this week, a partnership with Fiat Chrysler. Around 100 Chrysler Pacifica hybrid minivans have been fitted with self-driving technology, and will begin on-road testing in early 2017. Waymo is also reported to be in negotiations for a similar deal with Honda. Separately, Google itself has teamed up with Mercedes-Benz to offer voice control of certain aspects of vehicle maintenance and security via Google Home. Users will be able to check current mileage, whether their car is locked, and when its next service is due via the OK Google voice command.
Adbrands Weekly Update 15th Dec 2016: Ads of the Week: "Year In Search 2016". Google finds hope in the ashes of despair in its excellent, powerful summary of the past year, compiled by 72andSunny. For all the optimistic talk of love, sadly it's the dark stuff which resonates longer, and gives us good reason to be nervous about how 2017 will play out. Hope for the best, but be prepared for more of the worst...
Adbrands Weekly Update 3rd Nov 2016: Google parent Alphabet Inc delivered strong continuing growth in 3Q, with revenues jumping by 20% to over $22bn, while net income soared 27% to over $5bn. Both figures were ahead of expectations. Search-based advertising, especially on mobile devices, continues to drive the business, accounting for essentially all revenues and profits. The group's more experimental "other bets", like Google Fiber high-speed internet and Nest internet-connected home sensors, generated combined operating losses of $0.9bn on revenues of just $197m.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Oct 2016: Ads of the Week: "Life By You. Phone by Google". You can hardly have missed the news of Google's big push into hardware, with the launch of a host of new devices. Here's Droga5 New York's launch spot for the Google Pixel handset. It's hard to convey that product's key advantages - better camera, battery life, unlimited storage - in an ad. Instead, the campaign focuses on an anthem approach, offering a glimpse of how a Google-made device might interact with your world. It's an appealing picture. An accompanying spot for the Google Home wireless speaker is more demonstrative, and quite a good sell, even if it feels just a bit like an Apple commercial. See it on our Facebook page.
Adbrands Weekly Update 6th Oct 2016: Google moved aggressively into hardware this week, unveiling a string of devices designed to go head-to-head with key tech rivals Apple, Amazon, Samsung and Facebook. Arguably the strongest bet is a wireless speaker named Google Home, which is designed to undercut Amazon's unexpectedly popular Echo device. Transplanting the "Ok Google" voice-activated functionality into a standalone device, Home will answer users' questions and act upon instructions, using the vast troves of search-based information Google already holds in its servers. This will be accessed via an enhanced Google Assistant front-end, which can also interact with third-party software such as Uber, Netflix, OpenTable or Ticketmaster. Similar technology will also be built-in to newly unveiled Pixel smartphones, the first to be launched under Google's own banner (as opposed to in partnerships with others, as is the case with Nexus handsets). Pixel's USPs include a 16 megapixel camera, higher than any rival device on the market, as well as unlimited cloud storage of all pictures and videos on Google Drive. The company is also launching its own virtual reality platform under the Google Daydream banner, including the Daydream View headset which undercuts Facebook's Oculus Rift or Samsung Gear with a headset priced at around $79 in the US.
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