On November 15, Google unveiled their newest free service, Google Base. In short, it’s a way for you to directly send Google your content and tell them aboout your content. It’s their first foray into online databases and, as such, implies a need for the structured content that databases provide.
Google describes the service thusly: “Google Base is a place where you can easily submit all types of online and offline content that we’ll host and make searchable online. You can describe any item you post with attributes, which will help people find it when they search Google Base.”
The New York Times suggests that Google is going after online classifieds services such as eBay and Craigslist. It sure looks that way. The folks at Search Engine Watch are underwhelmed; unless the entries affect search engine results pages, they’re sorta shrugging their shoulders over the new service. Time will tell, they say, and I agree.
There is one thing about Google Base, however, that intrigues me: The possibility that the service could morph or branch off into an online hard drive and it’s implications for mobile marketing.
I first read about a hypothetical GDrive from John Hiler over at Microcontent News. While there is no “private” function at Google Base–everything you upload can be exposed to various Google properties, if they so wish–Google could easily add such a function and thus become the ultimate Information Age utility. Hiler suggests that Google could offer the service for free, what with their massive server capacity. That’d be sweet, but, honestly, I wouldn’t mind paying a small monthly fee to have all of my data available to me at any time, from any device, if privacy could be ensured.
Another reason I want an online hard drive is that I already carry around far too much hardware. I’ve got my Sidekick II phone, my iPod, my car stereo faceplate, and, I could easily add a portable game system such as the PSP to the mix. That’s a big stack of hardware. Two of the four devices have access to the Internet and the other two should, and, eventually, probably will.
Assuming a future where all devices access the Internet with broadband speed, you can see how an online hard drive would improve things immensely. You could drop the hard drives on the devices themselves, thus removing much of their bulk. Voila! Suddenly we return to the thin client metaphor of the 90s.
Despite all my mobile computing power, I still don’t always tote my notebook computer with me absolutely everywhere I go and that’s where all of my crucial data resides. With a GDrive, my data would be accessible wherever I happen to be. Couple my data with hosted applications such as what Microsoft plans to offer with their Office Live program, and the unproductive tether that ties me to my computer is broken.
However generous iPod’s 30 or 60 gig hard drive is, with a GDrive I could store my always-growing music collection without space worries and stream my music anytime, anywhere, to any compatible device. One of the major failings of my Sidekick II is, despite great speakers, I can’t play MP3s on it. With no need for a hard drive, Apple could do a deal and merge their player with the phone to create the Sidekick III. Let me plug my iPodKick III into my car stereo so I can rock away and answer calls hand-free and I’d be happy as a clam.
Google can give me GPS delivered local data from their local search and driving directions from Google Maps and they’ve got another advertising revenue stream.
The possibilites are endless and that, precisely, where I belive the future of marketing lies: Always on, real-time, mobile marketing.