Oct 20th, 2010

As far as I’m concerned, there are two sides of Google:

  • The stuff we know they’re working on
  • The stuff they’re secretly and privately working on

streetviewI have no idea how big each of those sides are but a recent article on ReadWriteWeb is making me increasingly interested in that secret/private side. Apparently Google had been using it’s Street View cars to collect information (name, strength, signal, etc) about local Wi-Fi networks  that they were driving by/around.

Way back in May, Canadian officials noted the privacy concerns of this data collection and today they published a statement, explained below by Audrey Watters of RWW:

In the report issued today, Canadian privacy commissioner Jennifer Stoddart said that the “collection is discontinued and Google has no plans to resume it.” The plans, according to Stoddart, are to rely on users’ smartphones to collect the information on the location of WiFi networks. Google uses this to build out its location-based services database, particularly in those areas with limited celltower strength.

What’s the FIRST thing you think Google would do with that information? What location-based service would they provide? They could simply add a layer of Wi-Fi networks to Google Maps, but I’d like to throw my over-the-top speculation into the ring:

We know that smartphones and their carriers have recently been embracing Wi-Fi calling through services like Skype – what if Google is trying to further push voice through data pipes, providing people with a “coverage map” of voice data that would work solely on unrelated but overlapping Wi-Fi networks?

Call it a long-shot, call it a conspiracy theory, call it whatever you want… but the bottom line is that Google is working on a lot of things that, if we knew, would surprise us. They announced Android. They announced the Nexus One “Google Phone”. They announced Google Navigation. They announced Chrome browser. They announced Chrome OS and Chrome Netbooks. They announced Google TV.

If five years ago I told you Google would be making a mobile OS, selling a mobile phone directly on their site, offering turn-by-turn navigation software, launching their own web browser, creating their own desktop software for netbooks/tablets, and creating a television platform – would you have believed me?

Not in a million years. But TODAY, I could tell you pretty much anything, and you would have no choice but to at least entertain the possibility that it was truthful. Google has built a reputation and culture of innovation. What we see on the surface are the seeds that have overcome the odds, sprouted in the jungle, and somehow found their way out of the darkness and reached above the canopy that shades the ground below.

jetsonsI mean, c’mon… now we know they’re testing a car that drives itself.

What other seeds has Google planted that we don’t yet know about and which ones will eventually shine in the spotlight? Take your guess below and swing back by with an “I told you so” when they launch exactly what you guessed a few years later.