When it comes to innovation in the digital space, it’s no secret that Google is the one to watch. This past week was the annual Google I/O conference where they revealed their latest and greatest for 2011. Here is a quick recap of the announcement highlights and what to expect to hear more about in the coming year from the interactive giant.
A Unified Mobile Delight
A good portion of the announcements revolved around the growth and success of Google’s Android mobile platform – to date there are over 100 million activated devices and 200,000 apps in the Android Marketplace with over 4.5 billion downloads. Currently, there are separate operating systems for tablets (Honeycomb) and smartphones (Android). Google I/O 2011 not only set the stage for updates, but also the introduction of the next phase – a unified mobile operating system, currently nicknamed Ice Cream Sandwich. Launching in Q4 2011, the single operating system will work across devices, bringing the advanced features currently available on their tablets to their smartphones.
Google Entertains Us
In 2011, Google is getting into the movie and music spaces with two important initiatives:
- Google Movies is now providing rentals to the masses via both YouTube and the Android Marketplace. YouTube now offers 3,000 titles for rent, and now Google Movies for Android will bring rentals to tablets and smartphones for $1.99.
- Google Music is a cloud-based storage and streaming system that will store up to 20,000 songs and provide users the access to their music library from any connected device. It will compete with Amazon’s new cloud player and is currently in an invitation-only beta stage.
Android Interacts with Smart Homes
Google is also pioneering an initiative that will allow for automated home control from Android devices. Android@Home is a new framework for developers to create apps that interface with our homes, such as lighting, appliances, home theaters, etc. There are already partnerships in the works, so expect to see these types of apps by the end of the year.
New Devices and New Pricing Models
As the tablet revolution ensues, Google brings another option to the table with the Chromebook. The laptop-style device is Internet-only capable and allows users to always have access to their personal cloud. What’s interesting is the pricing models Google has set forth. The new devices can be purchased, starting at a competitive price of $350, but Google is also initiating some subscription models. To position Chromebooks to niche markets, Google education editions can be rented to students for a $20 monthly subscription and business editions will start at $28/month.
Google is always pushing innovation, and I’m sure these newly announced highlights are just the tip of the iceberg. Be prepared to adapt as new platforms and digital opportunities come our way.