Google are probably the world’s most popular internet company. Until about 2007, that is, when the inevitable backlash gains momentum. But for the time being, they just can’t help themselves when it comes to launching genuinely useful, free software. Google Mail and Google Earth being just two of their recent spawn.
Now they’re breaking into the actual, tangible world by setting up stall in Heathrow Terminal 1. Until mid-December, outgoing passengers will be able to while away some time in their little technology playground known as Google Space.
What we get out of it: free web and e-mail use; something to do other than necking pints while waiting for the plane.
What Google get out of it: mountains of feedback about their products; increased exposure (you might think they don’t need it, but most folk have still never even heard of Google Earth, for example); and, of course, a priceless spot of good publicity.
Everyone’s a winner.
Google are characteristically ambitious about the project. According to a company spokesperson:
Depending on the success of the Heathrow "pod", Google could become a recognised physical presence in airports, stations and even high streets around the world.
So give it a couple of years and all those shiny new Starbucks will be turning into Google cafes. That’s when the backlash really begins. They’ll be prepared though. Once they run out of things to catalogue, they’ll find ways to index the future too.