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Five Potential Extensions to the Google Toolbar
In today's New York Times piece, "Google's Toughest Search is for a Business Model," Saul Hansell documents the challenges the search firm is facing in finding a revenue model that's as attractive as its technology. While Hansell's piece focuses on the web-based search advertising market, we think there are latent opportunities for Google to exploit their Internet Explorer toolbar application beyond in-line keyword highlighting, page ranking...and curing cancer.
So, presented in some semblance of "order," here are five potential extensions to the Google toolbar. We leave it to the reader as to whether any of these have revenue opportunities that outstrip Google Catalogs...
1. Providing local search services. They offer Google.com for the web, the Google appliance for the intrnaet, why not the toolbar for your local machine? How much would you pay to switch on local Googling, with full-text indexing of your cached web content, your Office docs, your PDFs, and your email archives -- all presented in the familiar Google interface? And how much would you pay if Google sold keyword-based ad delivery into your results?
2. Integrating Jabber and becoming the thinking person's IM network. The toolbar may not have the reach of AIM, MSN or even Yahoo's IM client, but given the predilections of the top three IM networks when it comes to abusing network power, product bundling and marketing opt-in, Google's trust factor alone could sway the "smart crowd" towards their branded IM network. And integrating Jabber could get Google into the lightweight pub/sub space quickly, opening up new opportunities for third-party partners to deliver structured data into the Toolbar for rendering.
3. Identity management. Google could provide Passport-style services without the toolbar, of course, but having a local client app could give users local control of their identity information, and a richer application environment for managing login preferences, wallet data, etc.
4. Unleashing its hidden power as a peer-to-peer content distribution network. Brilliant Digital Entertainment piggy-backed their network on Kazaa downloads; what's keeping Google from turning the toolbar into a Kontiki-style Akamai killer?
5. Using Google Compute to resolve the "are weblogs journalism?" debate. We've spilled too many bits on this one already, and I know that none of us are willing to wait around until 2007 to see who wins the Winer / Nisenholtz long bet. Let's unleash the toolbar on this one and get it resolved, before the question threatens to swallow Blogdex whole.
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