Google's Billions: Is 8 Enough?

Analysts have long predicted that Google would start providing applications for the office or home on the Internet. That's long been the vision of Google's Silicon Valley neighbors -- Sun Microsystems and Oracle. The strategy would be to take computers from the desktop to the Internet. One recent rumor is that Google plans to offer an online Web storage service that would allow users to store all the data from their hard drives online on Google's centralized computers. The service, reportedly called GDrive, could help free users from dependence on desktop computers and operating systems.

If that's part of the Google strategy, it would redefine the industry. It would also pose a direct challenge to giant Microsoft and its dominant Windows operating system.

If so, $10 billion may not be enough. Microsoft has four times that amount in cash reserves. Although Sun and Oracle have both challenged the Windows world, neither has succeeded.

Charlene Li at Forrester Research looks at Google and sees a media company. "They sell clicks," she said. Google technology gets the right ads to the right people. It's efficient and cost effective. She sees its recent venture into selling advertisements on radio and in newspapers as just the beginning. "They are definitely going in that direction. It is a marriage of new technology and traditional media models."

What is clear is that Google is fast becoming the industry leader. Whatever it does will have an impact on the industry, and on how and what we do with that box on the desk. That's why those in the industry are so curious.

"They are in a great strategic position," said Whyman. "The question is, where do they go?"

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