Posted by: crudbasher | May 17, 2011

Google’s Master Plan

(cc) VOD Cars

Google had this big conference last week and announced a few things that really gave me some insight into what their long term plan is. I wanted to touch on this and ponder what this means for Education.

The first item I saw was this: the Chromebook. Basically Google is creating a very cheap computer. How cheap? Well this is where it gets interesting. They want to offer these for lease at $28 per month ($20 for education). The reason this is interesting is they include full support in that program. That’s a huge deal because if you want to take a school to a 1:1 laptop program, buying the laptops is actually the easy part. One of the hard parts is supporting them when they go wrong. You either have to have your own IT department (which can be expensive) or you can outsource it. Google just made it really easy to do this.

The second item is this long story about Google’s machine translation project.  Make no mistake, from the sounds of it this is a very high priority for Google. I can see why. You see, in addition to writing on this blog and watching technology, I am also a programmer. Right now I do web stuff and databases. What I have learned is the more information you have, the more useful it becomes. Google definitely believes this. Each tool and app they make allows them to make more things. Google wants to index all the information on the planet. One big problem they have is there are hundreds of languages so the information isn’t easily compatible. They are working on a system to translate easily and accurately into many languages.

Let’s take a detour for a second here and talk about Google vs Apple and why I think Google will eventually win. For certain business reasons I think Apple is limiting themselves. Their products are very much in demand but they would be in even higher demand if they were less expensive. The mystique of owning an Apple is why people pay higher prices, but not everyone can afford to do that. So, I can conclude that Apple doesn’t want to sell as many products as possible, they want to sell as many as they can while maximizing their profit on each one. This is good business. They make money based on quality.

Google on the other hand makes money based on the number of people on the Internet.  In other words they make money based on quantity. It is in Google’s best interests for there to be very cheap computers. Since nobody else was operating that way, Google created them. Do you notice that Google has no interest in creating high end computers?

So you are left with the Ferrari vs Ford argument. Which is a better car maker? Ferrari I am sure. Which is more important to the world? Ford unquestionably.

So what does all this mean for Education?

I think your students are likely to get a computer (or smartphone) based on Google’s technology in the next few years. They will have access to even more information than we do now from many more cultures than we can access now. This is the essence of the Stormfront I have been talking about for 2 years now. Massive, irresistible, disruptive change. School’s can’t fight it, in fact they can’t do more than slow it down. Some day soon, every student will have a computer and Internet connection. I suggest we get ready.

Any thoughts? Am I off my rocker this time?

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