Mashable.com has a piece on Google’s expanding media empire and there is one observation that is actually quite obvious but which I’ve never really thought about:
It becomes pretty clear how Google is going about launching new products or acquiring others: analyzing the most popular topics within its search engine.
People are searching a lot for second life? All right, let’s launch our own 3D virtual world then. Google Trends already exploits search statistics for really simple trend / market analysis but in a dynamic marketplace like the Web the vast amount of search queries Google registers can really be a much more formidable tool for taking society’s pulse. There is no doubt that Google uses this data internally for some heavy market research and I could imagine that the company might license these tools or data to third parties in the future. Nielsen would get some serious competition.
The point I find really interesting about this matter is that Google is mostly criticized for commercially biases search results, their monopoly on online search and the gathering of data that might be used to spy on citizens – I have yet to read something that reflects data collection on users’ search behavior not only as potentially dangerous to individual rights but as a unique tool for corporate strategy. Mining their all knowing logfile might give Google a competitive advantage that other companies simply cannot emulate. Spotting shifts in cultural trends early could give their business planning an asset that money (currently) cannot buy. It would be prudent to convert to Googlism while they still accept new members.
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