Why You Need to Watch This Disruptive Technology

Andrés is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.

Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) is one of the most innovative and disruptive companies of our times, and the firm is working on so many interesting projects at the same time that it's sometimes hard for investors to keep track of the most effective technologies when it comes to middle term economic implications. Forget about Google Glasses or the self driving car for some time, Google Now deserves some serious attention.

What Google Now Really Is

Google Now is a search-centric, voice-powered digital assistant available for the latest version of Android, Jelly Bean. Most Wall Street analysts have been comparing Google Now with Apple´s (NASDAQ: AAPL) Siri, making comparisons in terms of query comprehension and accuracy of answers. These kinds of assessments are always interesting; but analysts may be missing the point here.

When using Siri, you need to tell the assistant what it is that you need. Google Now, on the other hand, anticipates your needs and delivers information based on your location, interests, habits, search history, and other variables. This is a whole new paradigm, a superior one.

Google Now leverages Google's gigantic information data base and it quietly keeps track of searches, calendar events, locations, and travel patterns among other things. It then synthesizes all that info and alerts you—either through notifications in the menu bar or cards on the search screen—of transit alerts or the scores of your favorite sports team, for example.

If you recurrently search for the scores for a particular team, Google Now learns from the search pattern and it automatically starts sending you that information. When you program a meeting in your calendar, the system can use traffic information and alert you that you should leave a few minutes earlier because the road is particularly heavy.

It's only logical to assume that Google Now will continue getting better and more powerful with the passage of time, and the possibilities are truly mind blowing. At the same time that it benefits consumers, Google Now could have very important implications for different companies.

What Google Now Means for Investors

This exciting technology is clearly beneficial for Google, and it’s not limited to mobile: the latest version of Chromium, the open source version of Google's Chrome browser, is prepared to integrate Google Now, a clear sign that the service is coming to desktop too. This is widening the lead Google has over competitors like Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSFT) and Yahoo! (NASDAQ: YHOO) in the search business.

Google is in a comfortable leadership position versus Microsoft and Yahoo! in terms of both search queries and monetization, and the business has self reinforcing competitive advantages. The more we use Google services, the better its search engine gets by accessing our information, and Google Now brings a new dimension to this dynamic. Not only is Google becoming smarter by the day, it's getting more proactive too.

Google Now is available as an app for iPhone, so it shouldn’t be a problem for Apple as long as the Cupertino giant has no plans to compete in search. In fact, many iPhone users got access to Google Now before most Android users, who had to install the new Android version in their phones because Google doesn’t offer the app as a standalone download on the Google Play Store.

On the other hand, one of the most beneficial effects Google Now brings to consumers is reducing the need to have so many different and unrelated applications functioning in our smart phones.  Weather, stock prices, sports results, currency conversion, language translation etc. are all included in this technology.

This can mean serious problems for companies like Yelp, Trip Advisor and many other smaller tech players which are capitalizing information niches on particular subjects. As everything goes into Google Now, we will likely need fewer applications, and many companies could suffer the consequences.

It could also be very helpful for Google in its competition versus Amazon (NASDAQ: AMZN). The online retailer has been gaining participation in product search lately, as many customers are attracted to Amazon due to its low prices and overall efficiency.

Google is counterattacking by developing a service to find products online and order them from different retailers. If Google is serious about its venture into online shopping, Google Now could be a great tool to personalize the shopping experience and capitalize all kind of information to generate a more valuable service.

Bottom Line

Google Now is a disruptive technology which is already amazing and still in its first stages of development. It shows that Google is an innovation leader, and way ahead of its competitors in the search industry. At the same time, it generates some very interesting possibilities to expand into other business areas, definitely a technology worth watching.


acardenal owns shares of Apple, Google and Amazon. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Apple, Amazon.com, Google, and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. Is this post wrong? Click here. Think you can do better? Join us and write your own!

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