I don’t normally like to write speculation pieces, but I’ve noticed a trend in Google’s camp.
Google’s reputation as a Jack of all trades, in my belief, is a huge advantage to them. They’re able to justify a huge swath of different projects, trying this and that, until they have a winning idea. It seems as though Google is both launching and scuttling projects weekly. Which can be frustrating (Google Reader) and understandable (Google Wave.)
Google’s 20 percent program is awesome, employees are encouraged to find a project, in-line with Google’s Mission and once approved, they are given a reasonable amount of autonomy. One Googler by the name of Mike Hearn chose bitcoin as his project, and from what I hear he contributes to the ongoing development of bitcoin. I’ve heard on the forums and around Reddit that this can have some worrisome consequences, but I’d like to focus on a broader picture here, given I am speculating on a simple idea.
Google I/O’s theme was a bit of a perplexing one, many came away disappointed by the lack of Glass. Given that Glass is still in beta and getting plenty of press already, I’m not surprised that they spent such a small amount of time on the subject. What I was surprised about was the massive improvements to Google Wallet and the killing of Google Checkout. Rolling everything into a single product seems like a smart brand move and a hugely profitable one (lookout Paypal,) but also one that leads me to my main suspicion.
Given the attention that bitcoin is receiving, could it be that Google might start rolling bitcoin into their Wallet product? I can only imagine that Mike Hearn collaborates a lot with the Google Wallet team, and chances are those that are on the team also have a lot to say about bitcoin. Even if their plans are way down the road, I could see Google making a very strategic position behind such a disruptive concept. I think their track record shows that they aren’t afraid of a little risk, I mean what’s riskier than strapping a computer to a person’s face?