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Google IO 2011 Predictions from Mark Scheel of Digital Construction

In my last post I introduced the event that is Google I/O and showed off some HTML 5 magic:

Today I am going to make some predictions.  Read on for more.

In 2010 Eric Schmidt got on stage and made a big deal about Google TV, predicting it would be awesome.  He goated the Sony CEO into promising that units would be in the Best Buy CEO’s stores by Christmas.   And in, they were.  Score one in the win column.

Problem was nobody bought them.

Score one in the loss column.

This was reminiscent of many of my 2010 predictions that were overly optimistic.  Android did not win the tablet war nor did it really have a viable competitor by the holiday season of 2010.  I was right that Android phones would surpass Apple phones.  I was wrong about a Google and T-Mobile marriage, but right about a Google Bookstore.  I was wrong about Sketchup being big, but right (although a year early) about a famous band playing a live set at the event.

So what does 2011 have in store for us?

+1

This is Google’s attempt to cut off Facebook from taking over even more Internet traffic, it makes search social, and my bet is it will be heavily promoted.  There have been rumors about Google bonuses being tied to its success, and the man who had the most stage time last year, Vic Gundotra and unofficial Czar of Google IO was recently promoted to a position involving social media at Google.  Not a lot of people are talking about this so I thought I would put it out front, so at least one of my nuttier predictions can get some credit if correct.

This one is particularly nutty, because Google has been terrible with social stuff in the past, remember Dodgeball, Wave and Buzz?  Neither do most people.  But I am going out on a limb and predicting in 2012, we will recall what +1 is.

Speaking of Wave, which occupied at least an hour long keynote last year and attempted to revolutionize email and online collaboration … the product was killed shortly after IO and the guy doing the talking (Lars Rasmussen) joined up with Zuckerberg at Facebook.   I wonder how many millions in stock options he walked away from?

Will any IO 2011 presenters leave for Facebook before IO 2012?

Google Apps

For the unfamiliar, Google Apps is like Microsoft Office, but your employees move their work into the cloud and pay a lot less.  It is free for a limited number of users, and that ceiling is lowering soon.  Also, Google actually makes money from Google Apps if your company grows in size or you pay for special service.  The point of I/O is to get people using the Google platform and evangelize products, especially those that will drive revenue.  Last year we got a free gift card to spend on AdSense, so I say a free gift card for Google Apps isn’t too much of a stretch.

Fusion Tables

Very few people know about this cloud based spreadsheet thing.  I bet it is talked about and shown off with some cool visualizations.  Work at an MLS or industry vendor?  You should be checking this out.

Gaming  (Google TV)

Last year I predicted that Google would make a splash with gaming because they were getting killed by Apple.  I suggested a Flash based game store.  I was right about Flash and sort of right about a gaming store, but I think this year you will see even more, because hey, Apple is still killing Google (Android is just getting Plants Vs. Zombies now).

How about an enhanced Google TV that starts to look more like an XBox 360.  Probably Kinect like motion tracking is too much to ask for, although GMail Motion made for a nice April Fool’s prank.  But bringing the Android App Store to Google TV and encouraging the development of social games played in the living room around the TV with friends in person and across the world is totally possible.

So there is one of my less nuttier predictions, the Android App Store will be made available for Google TV.  And as a segue, you can bet on some cool gaming demonstrations on Android tablets …

Android Tablets

This will be huge, at least an hour of demonstrations of all the cool things Android tablets can do highlighting where Android tablets are faster, better and lighter than the iPad2.  There will be an iPad2 on stage and probably some kind of geeky javascript performance test, and the obligatory “see, Flash doesn’t work on iOS” demonstration.  Perhaps they will also show a Blackberry Playbook, if they don’t the omission will be intended to indicate that those guys don’t even count.  We will probably see 3D video shot from a tablet, and maybe even get 3d glasses to watch the video playback.  In the sandbox area there will be a display of all the Android tablets on market to date.

To encourage developers to write applications for this content they will tell us about renderscript AND, here it comes, give everyone a free tablet.  The question is will the tablet be the equivalent of the 2010 Droid giveaway or the 2010 Evo giveaway.  If the former, we will get Xoom’s, a product that is already out.  If the latter, we will get some super tablet that won’t be in stores for another month.  Perhaps the rumored GSlate.

There is rampant speculation online that the OS for Android tablets and OS for Android phones will be merged going forward, with a splashy announcement at this event featuring lots of ice cream treats.  I am on board with these predictions, and I think the architectural paradigm I saw pushed at the Motorola Xoom unveiling earlier this year of building one app for phone and tablet screen sizes will be touted as an advantage of developing for the Android ecosystem.  I remain a little skeptical of the practicality of a single UI code base for multiple form factors, but am ready to be convinced.  Again.

Finally, I think you will see something where someone drags or sends content from a tablet to a TV.  Similar to last year’s Chrome To Phone demonstration but more like that scene in IronMan where Tony Stark sends video content from his phone to a congressional TV.  And keep in mind the difference between a tablet and a phone will be negligible after this event, so it could be dragging from a phone to a table to a TV!

Speaking of things passing through the air, NFC will be demonstrated and encouraged.  If a phone is given away this year you can bet it will have NFC.

Google Music

Recent rumors have indicated that Google is falling behind in the race to a cloud based iTunes killer.  Amazon released their storage locker, firmly giving a middle finger to the record labels in the process, and Apple is said to be on the verge of inking deals with said labels.  Despite these negative rumors I think Google will go big this year with music related announcements.  Last year a significant Keynote was given by an HTML5 cloud based music service, and all attendees received a gift SD card full of great music to enjoy.  I am guessing we will get free music again this year except this time it will come with an account with a new Google Music offering.  This is also where I sneak in one of my crazier predictions.  Its hard to read alliances sometimes in the tech industry.  It appears that Larry Ellison and Steve Jobs are in cahoots, what with Oracle suing the pants off of anybody using the Java based Android (Oracle bought Sun and all its Java assets), but what about Larry Page and Jeff Bezos?

Friend or foe?

Last year Amazon had a booth in the Sandbox at IO, they were even hiring developers for their Palo Alto Kindle skunkworks center.  And in the last year Amazon has re-utilized that middle finger in a legal spat with Apple over the term “App Store”.  But the origin of that spat, the Amazon App Store competes directly with the Android Marketplace (Google).  And the Kindle and Android tablets could be said to compete.  But here comes the crazy juice.  I would love to see Amazon and Google join forces like Microsoft and Nokia, with some kind of super Android Kindle that with enhanced Am-oogle music services on it will rock your pants off. Oh yeah, and Jeff Bezos will be on stage with Larry Page.

OK.  I have put away the crazy juice.  But if that one is right, New York Times, you can reach me through my website at www.digitalconstruction.com and I have more where this came from.  I also know who John Galt is.

The smart money is on Spotify, by the way, and that is more likely than an Amazon partnership.

Cr48

Either Cr48 will get shelved, a la Google Wave, or it will get another big push including free netbooks for all attendees.  Google’s operating system strategy is a little unclear to me, but I feel like some education about ChromeOS will be coming, at the least, as a hedge against the Oracle / Android lawsuit stuff.  If Oracle wins big, ChromeOS will have to replace Android and Google will need developers to work on that platform.   The crazy juice drinkers might say that tablets will be unveiled running ChromeOS, and an emulator will let Android apps run on it (kind of like Blackberry Playbooks), and we will all get ChromeOS tablets.  Could that be why Google held Honeycomb back from manufacturers?

Adobe

I like playing the odds and at least saying Adobe will make an announcement and get deeper in bed with Google.  From what I saw last year, Adobe is more friend than foe of Google’s.

Food

The food will be good, and there will be unlimited snacks for everyone.  One of the snack areas had a Wii and a pool table last year, I wonder if this year the Wii’s will be replaced by GoogleTV gaming systems.

Entertainment

The cat is out of the bag already, Jane’s Addiction is playing a free set.  I will take pictures of it and all the interactive nerdy fun they ply us with.

Featured Events (Ignite and Google Ventures Meetup)

On Tuesday evening these competing events will take place.  Let me know in the comments which you would attend.  I am leaning towards the GVM for a couple reasons – I can watch the Ignite presenters on YouTube later, and Boulder, CO has a pretty good Ignite event I can see in person most anytime.

Ignite. Ignite is back to top off your brain after a packed day. This year we will learn about the Brain API, the similarities of Disneyland and Burning Man, and a dissection of the Tiger Mom myth. As always the speakers will have just 20 slides that auto-advance every 15 seconds, for a total of five minutes on stage.  This fun, engaging presentation is the perfect way to wind down a busy first day at I/O as you prepare for the After Hours party.

Google Ventures Meetup. Please join Google Ventures in an experiment in “controlled chaos!” It will bring Google I/O attendees together with members of Google Ventures’ core team (investors and experienced startup veterans), and select portfolio companies (ranging from small, new teams to later-stage, successful companies).  The room will be arranged enabling attendees to speak to panels of “experts” in bite-sized, three-minute 1:1 conversations, otherwise known as VC speed dating! Our goal is to connect both practicing, and soon-to-be entrepreneurs, with experts who can impart advice, lessons learned, and quick tips.  Please RSVP to let us know if you’ll attend. (Location: Cafes, Level 1)

(It isn’t mentioned in the official description above, but the GVM will have cold beer.  I guess that seals it)

Pre-Party

A major mobile company is hosting a pre-party, invitation only, I have an invite and my prediction for this is utter disaster.  The recipe is small venue, free booze, and guest list.  Stir a little and you have lines around the block.  I will check it out and report in.  Maybe the venue is huge, who knows.  I do know I will listen to the master and not go big on the first night.  I hope I am wrong with this prediction and the party is awesome.

Summary

Well, that is all I have time for today.  I will check in next week with more information.  I leave beautiful Colorado for the Bay Area on Monday, and the conference starts on Tuesday and continues into Wednesday.  I will be in the bay area (Palo Alto as well) all week, so if you are out that way lets get together.

One of the advantages of going to IO is that you get to talk to Google workers and ask them questions.  Want me to ask a question for you?  Let me know in the comments.  Or if you want me to discuss something in an upcoming post, let me know as well.

Google IO 2011 is going to be AWESOME and full of surprise announcements and geeky fun.  Maybe some of my predictions above will come to pass, and maybe not, but one thing is for certain, this event is going to be great.

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