Google continues to attempt to cement its position as the centre of all internet goodness with more product and feature announcments and by buying in to strategic alliances. Here's a round-up.
First up, late Friday Time Warner announced that they had stopped talking to Microsoft to concentrate entirely on a deal with Google to sell a 5% stake in AOL for $1bn. Time Warner have been looking for a partner to 'boost AOL's value' in the face of mounting investor pressure. Time Warner's share price has been virtually in free fall since their high of $85 after they purchased AOL; it's currently at $18.
For Google they will hope to be able to influence and better integrate AOL's established webmail and chat services with their fledgling technologies, AOL will continue to use Google's search technology and they will be able to use AOL's video clips in its Google Video service.
AOL will hope that Google will bring some much needed brand ruboff. They will also be able to better control the Google Adwords system to deliver AOL adverts and allow them to control advertising revenue and customers. Currently ads are served centrally by Google and advertising enquiries are directed to Google.
AOL is Google's biggest customer with advertising through AOL's portal accounting for $420m, or 10% of Google's turnover. Clearly the biggest plus for Google in this deal is not allowing Microsoft access to what is essentially pure profit, especially with the online services market really hotting up.
Also on Friday Google announced that its Gmail service is now available via mobile phone. The service is U.S. only for now and only on selected handsets but Google promises to expand the service.
On Thursday Google announced the release of Google Music. The music search feature allows users to search for artists and songs and returns links to various music distributors, both online and offline, information, photo's, and discussions on Google Groups. Google will not collect revenue from the linking through to third parties such as iTunes and Amazon but clearly if the service is a success they will start putting their own targetted advertising on the search results.
Two new Firefox plugins developed by Google also surfaced this last week. The first allows users to read a commentary on the website they are visiting, the second is Google Safe Browsing, which alerts users if the webpage they are visiting is asking for personal information in a dubious manner. Google is clearly expanding the interfaces into its search technology while at the same time trying to protect its users who are using their portal technologies.
Finally, and then we can take a deap breath, Google is rumoured to be considering buying some or all the Opera web browser. For sometime it's been a mystery as to why Google didn't have it's own browser although after they hired some Mozilla developers it appeared they would release a branded Firefox browser. This would appear to be the final piece in the Google Desktop puzzle and allow them to truely compete with Microsoft and even Yahoo! on a level playing field.
Does the holiday season exist down at Googleplex?