Google (GOOG) made headlines today after acting like Apple (AAPL) and snatching up a streaming service called Songza, which is quite similar to Pandora (P). And on that news, GOOG stock gained a bit more than 1% on the day.
That’s nice. But let’s be real — if you really want to know where the company (and GOOG stock) is headed down the road, you should have cared much more about last week’s Google headlines. That’s when Google I/O 2014 took place. Google I/O is where all the plans — big and small, crazy and tangible — get revealed. As a result, it’s also what gets all the tech talking heads … well, talking.
If you’re a potential or current GOOG stock investor, you should be familiar with what the company announced at last week’s conference. And if you want extra credit, you should also skim through what the experts had to say about it.
Have no fear, though — we did some of that work for you. Check out the Spark Notes version of Google I/O 2014, including a few key announcements, and a few notable reactions.
What GOOG Stock Investors Need to Know About I/O 2014
Let’s start simple. One thing announced was Google’s Android One initiative, which is designed to bring “high-quality, affordable smartphones” to developing nations. Google has always offered relatively cheap gadgets — compared to high-end Apple, for example. But even Apple is moving to offer cheaper options, as there’s huge opportunity in markets like China.
Short-term, that might matter for GOOG stock. But looking long-term, that’s just fine print. Instead, the real takeaway from Google I/O 2014 is that it’s no longer just about the latest version of any hardware. Instead, it’s about big-picture visions of connectivity — ones that are more about changing the world than necessarily fattening the bottom line (although there’s a good chance more game-changing tech will lead to more juicy profits).
One example is the company’s plan for Chromebooks; the company wants to “tighten interactions between the laptop and Android,” as Jeff Bertulucci over at InformationWeek summed it up. Beyond that, though, is the coming connectivity between things — not just things with screens, but almost all things. In case you missed it, this is part of a little trend called the “Internet of Things” — a network of devices and sensors that (you guessed it) make us even more connected than we already are.
Related bits from Google I/O 2014 include Google’s focus on wearable technology (although Google Glass was not mentioned explicitly), a focus on car connectivity and big plans for voice commands. Also, Google announced an initiative called Material Design (part of a larger initiative called Android L) which, in the spirit of this connectivity, is meant to unify all Google products and third-party Android apps under a common UX tongue. As Bertulucci summed it up, “The motivation behind Android L is to create a user experience that extends beyond phones and tablets to wearables, cars, TVs, and other devices.”
Overwhelmed yet? You probably should be. In fact, perhaps my favorite response to all this news and “connectivity” focus came from this Fast Company article by Mark Wilson, which responded to Google I/O 2014 by asking the simple yet profound question: What is Google? Read for yourself:
“A day before, as Google revealed its big plan at its annual I/O conference, it was overwhelming to conceptualize what this blob of digital services had become. Was Google a search bar that lived in a laptop web browser? Was Google a dashboard for your car? Was Google the Android tablet, being used to control an Android TV game? Was Google the system of white note cards, being sent from an Android phone to an Android Wear smartwatch? Was Google a magic blue button that lived on these cards, making anything possible with a tap?”
It’s a question worth asking, especially if you’re a GOOG stock investor. While lots of today’s tech darlings have their heads in the clouds — Tesla (TSLA), Amazon (AMZN) and Facebook (FB), to name a few — the key to stock success is to balance big dreams and buzzwords with real-world results. Can Google do that? Based on Google I/O 2014, there seems to be a lot of potential … but also a lot of question markets.
That’s sometime to keep in mind if you’re deciding how to play GOOG stock — especially considering shares are up just 4% since the start of the year, according (of course) to Google Finance.
As of this writing, Robert Martin did not hold a position in any of the aforementioned securities.