Google’s subtle moves towards being a total comms provider

30 Aug 2010 editor John Kennedy’s take on the week that was. Don’t let Google’s social media buying spree fool ya, the company could one day be your TV, broadband and phone provider.

If there is one lesson in life it is this – never wake a sleeping giant – or in the case of Google, never try to take on a giant that never sleeps.

With all the hoopla around Facebook in recent months and its Open Graph strategy, you get the impression that people have been writing off Google’s attempts to be a force in social media. Sure, it closed down Wave but that’s the way it does things, if it isn’t successful kill it and think of something else.

What few realise that Google is doing is assembly all the parts of the system it needs to be a fully integrated social network that works with your daily life, from TV to your mobile device.

Over the past months it has taken investments in social gaming site Zynga and has been buying social networking sites to beat the band – Jambool, Slide, Aardvark – and over the weekend it emerged it is buying Angstro, a social media start-up that pulls in data from Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn and more.

At the same time Google revealed last week that it is testing voice services on Gmail. Google already has a Google Talk voice over IP system.

It emerged over the weekend that Google is also planning pay-per-view films on YouTube.

Earlier this year Google revealed plans to test 1Gbps broadband in a number of US cities and is also hard at work on its own internet TV project.

It’s role in the recent hubbub around net neutrality is also very telling.

Google, in order to remain relevant in online advertising, needs to move with the ongoing shake-up of the internet as we know it, from a PC only experience to an experience that is on every smartphone, tablet computer, netbook and TV.

To capture the ubiquitous nature of the internet Google needs to be not only serving but also providing the tools that will define the next decade.

Just as Facebook – which has moved into location services – will no doubt be looking at adding voice services to its platform, Google too has to evolve. The question is, however, will this be good news or bad news for the telecoms providers that are investing billions in rolling out next-generation networks?

Will Google emerge as a total telecoms provider in its own right, negating this industry, or will its efforts provide the life’s blood these companies and their investors need to get a return on their investment.

Only time will tell.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years