All due respect to mighty Apple, it’s tough to argue that any company is working harder than Google to combine innovation and domination of the digital world. Google doesn’t always win with its ideas – cough, cough Google Glass – but, no matter how many times they strike out, they keep coming back into the box for another swing.
The latest news from Mount Google is Sidewalk Labs. This is a new business idea touting the goal of bringing innovation and new tech into cities to “improve urban life for residents, governments and businesses.”
While the investment involved does not – at least by Google standards – represent a significant investment, the venture is a bit of a departure from headline grabbing gambits such as self-driving cars. Still, despite downplaying their involvement, Google CEO Larry Page seems excited about the project. In an email to Bloomberg, Page said, “As more and more people around the world live, work and settle in cities, the opportunities for improving our urban environments are endless. Now it’s time to hit the streets and go to work.”
The move may well be an attempt to humanize a company that has been shifting toward less “human” technology. Instead of giving people cool and convenient tech tools they become dependent on, Sidewalk will look at how tech can make transportation more efficient, reducing costs and energy usage. No report yet on how they plan to accomplish that, but Google has always been quick to emphasize intent long before they release the actual product or service. They tend to love a long PR gestation period, hoping potential users will not tire of discussing what “is” and what “could be” when the tech finally launches.
That sort of long simmer can be dangerous. Consumers can be fickle, losing interest as fast as their attention was piqued. Google seems to have perfected the “leak just enough” method to keep the PR engine from stalling, a necessary skill when you are bragging about something that may never come to pass.
Jonah Engler is a financial expert who embraces the latest tech trends.
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