Google predicts the future

  • Mar 10, 2011

Matthew Caylor, Account Executive – Interactive, MANSI Media

Ten years ago, most people would not have believed the explosive growth awaiting the newly-introduced Apple product, the iPod (released in Oct 2001).

Five years ago the World Wide Web broke the 5 billion user mark, finally proving the Internet is not a fad.

Now, as we enter 2011, what can we expect? Well, leave it to Google to provide an answer. At a recent Pittsburgh Ad Fed event, Tim Reis, Google’s head of consumer packaged goods – east, discussed the future and technology’s impact on events on the horizon.

 The future, according to Google:

 1)  Video will continue its rapid growth and users will become “Screen Agnostic,” watching:

 What they want:

  • User created (ex. YouTube)
  • Professional syndicated content (ex. the latest episode of “American Idol”)
  • Long-tail video content (ex. Knight Rider episode “Trust Doesn’t Rust” with the classic battle between KITT & KARR)

 When they want:

  • On-Demand (ex. Comcast’s new Xfinity app)
  • Live mobile (ex. Verizon V CAST’s exclusive mobile content)
  • Purchased content (ex. iTunes’ massive online library)

 How they want:

  • Traditional television (plasma, LCD, LED, 3-D?)
  • Mobile (Apple, Android, Blackberry, etc.)
  • Tablet PC (iPad, TouchPad, Playbook, etc.)

 2)      Storage will be unlimited and cheap, allowing more users to move to the “Cloud.”  “No more downloading,” Reis says, as users will pull data and programs from the cloud.

The continued growth of personal computer hard disk space does not have an end in sight as technology continues to push the boundaries of both data compression and micronization of components. With the increased capacity, the industry has also seen a dramatic drop in price. In 1999, the cost of a 20-GB hard drive was around $250. In 2005 the cost of a 250-GB hard drive was around $150. In 2010 you could purchase a terabyte hard drive for under $100 (for reference a terabyte is 1,000 gigabytes). Again, this low cost trend does not give any indication of slowing.

With a single terabyte a user could store about:

  • 250,000 photos
  • 128 DVDs
  • 20 Blu-rays

3)  A “data tsunami sweeps the world.”

With all of this cheap space available, users can store a vast amount of information, either on their personal computers or on remote servers where the information can be accessed by them at multiple points (i.e. multiple computers, mobile devices or other platforms) or by multiple users.

As an example of the volume of data that can be created, InfoTrends estimated 228 billion cell phone photos taken in 2010. These photos are easily shared across cell networks through MMS or through social media services (Facebook, Twitter, etc.). Along with this volume there is a vast interest in user-generated data. In April 2010, more than 183 billion users accessed videos on YouTube (owned by Google), with many of those videos being non-professional, user-created pieces.

As everyone becomes a creator of content, has an easy and inexpensive method to store data, and can easily share that information the spread will only continue as society becomes awash in the data tsunami.

4)       “Language will be a solved problem.”

Society will enter the futuristic world of Star Trek with the new Android tool, “Google Translate.” For example, if you are relaxing beside a cabana in a tropical paradise the conversation could start and stop as you try pantomiming to the Spanish speaking waiter that you want another beer, putting a damper on your island adventure. However, with the “Google Translate” service you could simply say “I would like a beer” into your phone and it will spit out, “Me gustaria una cerveza,” to the waiter (or if you are the more adventurous type perhaps you would need that in Swahili, “Napenda bia.”).

5)      The phone (communications device) is your concierge.

“Your phone knows you and your friends, it can make informed recommendations,” Reis said as he discussed his last prediction. Smart phones are growing in numbers and with their increased penetration, they are bringing more services to their users.

  • 11 percent of adults 18+ in Pittsburgh are Smart Phone users
  • 20 percent of adults 20+ in Philadelphia are Smart Phone users
  • 19 percent of adults 20+ in Baltimore are Smart Phone users
  • 15 percent  of adults 20+ in Harrisburg/Lebanon/Lancaster/York are Smart Phone users

*2010 Scarborough Research

These users can now quickly and easily access news, reviews and other rating services as they plan a purchase. Where the traditional model would follow this flow:

Stimulus (advertising) →Purchase →Product expectations met/unmet

The new model with instant access to these reviews follows:

Stimulus (advertising) →Instant research →Purchase →Product expectations met/unmet

“People want to know what other people think,” Reis said, and consumers are looking to these reviews as they decide what to purchase. With this additional element, marketers are being forced to look at not only a highly fragmented media, but also new and difficult to control channels of user generated content.

What do all of these predictions mean? Simply put, technology will continue to fuel change in our daily interactions with the economy, products and each other. Of these technologies, Google has placed its bets on search (because people will always want to find the answers to their questions), video (and its continuous growth), mobility (iPhones, Androids, Blackberrys and many other phones will continue to provide access on the go) and the cloud (cheap, unlimited storage available anywhere at anytime).

How can newspapers grow and prosper in this rapidly-changing environment? A few tips from Google:

-          Focus 70 percent of your efforts on proven, profitable avenues of business. Focus 20 percent of efforts to develop potential business and focus the remaining 10 percent of efforts on future efforts with no expectations of return.

-          Find out what is holding you back and what can be done to move faster. Act upon these findings.

-          Keep the user first in mind on all initiatives and all else will follow


What are you predictions for the future? Let me know by e-mailing me at


You must be logged in to post comments.

Contact Us  |  3899 North Front Street, Harrisburg PA 17110  |  Phone: (717) 703-3000  |  Fax: (717) 703-3001