You’re in a restaurant in France. The menu looks delightful, but it’s all in French and you don’t know what to order. So you whip out your mobile, take a photo of the menu and Google Goggles whirs into action, digesting the French text and presenting you with an English version that you can make sense of.
This was just one of the many applications that Robert Hamilton, Google’s Mobile Product Manager, presented while speaking on the future of mobile at gSouth Africa in Cape Town on Monday.
During a wide-ranging and stimulating presentation, Hamilton explained how Google looks for long term trends that it can rely on and banks on them. He used the example of GMail, launched in 2004, that changed the game for webmail by offering 2GB of storage free. At the time it was unheard of to offer more than 25MB free, but Google bet that it would soon be standard.
YouTube launched in 2005 at a time when hardware was expensive, uploading was difficult and there were multiple video players to choose from. YouTube presented something simple and compelling in its flash-based video player — which then became the standard.
With this in mind, Hamilton presented key trends Google are tracking in the mobile sphere.
1. A mobile phone is a computer in your pocket with the abilities of speech via its speaker, touch and sight via its screen, hearing via a mic, and spatial awareness via GPS. That makes it one of the most powerful tools ever created.
2. The prices of these devices are falling all the time, and it won’t be long before this level of sophistication is available to everyone, along with unprecedented levels of connectivity.
3. The concept of cloud computing has had a profound impact on the mobile world, enabling phones to run sophisticated applications that would previously have required too much processing power to execute…[continue reading]
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