It looks like Google is playing chess and smartly making moves into Games through the rumoured 100M or more funds into Zynga. Surely that’s just a move against Facebook. TechCrunch and Venturebeat reported this rumour (http://games.venturebeat.com/2010/07/10/google-quietly-invests-in-zynga-and-prepares-google-games-launch-report/) .It comes at a height of smart investments made by Google into the future landscape of advertising and user habits shifting from offline onto online.
This is smart by Zynga too as it gives them leverage to manoeuvre and not to place reliance on Facebook. Google also added Invite Media to its books. I’ve already blogged about this and lately acquired ITA. ITA is a flight information software provider. With the sheer volume of data ITA has and given from my experience at Octopus travel and Expedia; Travel is the one of the largest verticals in advertising; the deal makes sense commercially but does it make sense emotionally or even herald a danger where Google is the front, the middle and the end destination for many internet users. If that’s the case then we are in real trouble because its algorithms can all be matched to enhance the greatest yield for Google at the cost of competition.
Hitwise did a great overview of where users go from Google through downstream analysis (http://weblogs.hitwise.com/us-heather-hopkins/2010/07/google_travel_ita_acquisition_1.html) – the article offers some insight into why the Google acquisition of ITA is worrying. They also predicted that Games is the next vertical Google will go after. Truly worrying especially in Asia because it has one of the deepest concentrations of online game players. In a single swoop – Google could literally tie up the whole of Asia through travel, games, search and the likes of video and DSP.
Google is shifting from simple search to a more prominent force into display and following the user habits. It almost feels like they are stalking their users with all sorts of Google tainted services. This is not to say Google will look to change their algorithms to maximise yield but it’s a potent force and has the ability to do so. To reduce competition and to own so much proprietary data is dangerous and needs regulation. We are indeed in danger of losing meta search companies like Kayak and travel companies like Expedia, Octopus, and Priceline may eventually die out. Hopefully the regulatory bodies will really look at the future and decide the fate of all of us.