Will it ever stop? It’s a question that I’ve seen being thrown around the web-forums over the past 18 months and is directed at Google’s ability to consistently add innovative products and services to their already expansive line-up. It might sound like a cheesy line from an advertisemment –

When you needed to search the web…Google was there; when you needed to locate an address on a map…Google was there; when you needed to be alerted of a particular keyword in pages going live…Google was there; needless to say, if it has to do with web technologies…Google is never far away. In fact, while typing this blog, I noticed my colleague reading a news article story headlined “Google reveals its challenge to iPhone”. The soon to be released G1 is Google’s new WI-FI enabled mobile phone running Google’s new Android operating system. So how does all this innovation affect us marketers?

Google’s business has always been to deliver innovative services freely to the masses. I am one of millions of users who use Google Search, Google Images, Google Maps, Google Analytics, Google Alerts on a daily basis. It now seems that Google now have their eyes firmly set on the very core of the web browsing experience. Yes, the browser wars are on again, and it looks like it will be the age-old adage, INNOVATE OR DIE!

I suppose it started with the Google Toolbar, a freely downloadable plugin for browsers that added extra functionality to a user’s existing browser (IE, Firefox, etc.), and then the idea progressed from there. Earlier this month, Google brought it to the next level by releasing a beta of its own browser called Chrome and was received with plenty of press coverage in the mainstream media as well as in the bloggersphere. With a refreshingly sparse interface allowing for increased screen real-estate, improved browsing speed and ease of use, Google’s near ridiculously successful track record, and the fact that they will be touting Chrome on Google Search should mean that their browser will take a large chunk of the browser marketshare…it has already a favourite in our offices.

If Google’s past behaviour is anything to go by, the release of Chrome will undoubtedly mean that behavioural information gained through the browser will be used in developing their advertising relevance/targeting technologies. Since Chrome’s release, Google has introduced a stricter privacy policy for its new browser, restricting the amount of data the browser stores about your search tastes and preferences but this does illustrate how powerful that data is and only time will tell how it will be used. Marketers already see the web as a breakthrough in the way advertisers are able to connect to target audiences. The potential for information gathering and data collection made possible with a browser like Chrome makes for a very exciting prospect indeed. As long as Google follow their hypocratic oath of “first do no harm”, businesses and consumers alike should see great benefit from this technology.