Google’s social network, Google+, started some pretty dramatic integrations by combining Profiles with Gmail and YouTube. Since that service launched, the company has been integrating services like Reader, Voice and others into the service.
And, of course, Google has brought Search into Google+, and Google+ into Search.
Google doesn’t want to become Yahoo.
It’s hard to remember now, but there was a time when Yahoo was the hottest company in Silicon Valley. But Yahoo launched and acquired so many services and brands, which it failed to unify or bring together in any coherent way, that the company’s mission, purpose and identity became unidentifiable.
The second reason is that major Silicon Valley companies -- including Google, Apple and others – have promised a breathtaking future of artificial intelligence virtual assistants anticipating our every desire and going out into the world for us, acting on our behalf.
Over time, Google will integrate agency -- the initiative that the Google of the future will take to act via one service based on information from another. For example, Google Calendar might find out you're going to be late for your meeting by checking your location on Google Latitude, and offer to use Google Voice to connect a call to the person you're meeting with.
Virtual assistants will relay private messages for you, and buy things using your credit card.
You won’t have to go search Google, then sort through a million results. You’ll just tell your phone: “Find a good restaurant for Tuesday’s lunch meeting.” Google will know you, what you like, where you’ll be and what your budget is. It will also know all this for the people you’re meeting with, and take care of all the details.
This virtual assistant Nirvana requires free-flowing information among a wide variety of services.
And it has to be the same “you” on every service. Identity makes it all possible.
If you want light, ignore the noise. The tech pundit echo chamber will grow louder and louder on this over the next few months, with each expert trying to out-panic the others. (By this time next year nobody will even remember the controversy.)
Meanwhile, if you're concerned about what Google knows about you, check your account using a tool the company makes available called the Google Dashboard.
Also: Google itself will give you tools and information to help you manage your own privacy and activity online. Just go here.
So brace yourself for some major-league hysterics over the new Google policy. You’ll be told that Google is Big Brother, that the policy ignores user choice and preference and that you’re being coerced into a dystopian online existence.
In reality, Google is merely consolidating and unifying far-flung services to create a single, personalized experience across Google properties that will keep the company relevant and enable it to move to the next phase in the evolution of the Internet. And the company is doing so in a transparent manner that I wish more companies would embrace.