If we take a look at the history of Google, an obvious pattern of content aquisition and aggregation emerges:
- Usenet (Deja)
- Groups (email lists)
It makes sense - the more content that Google controls, the more powerful, targeted and integrated its advertising can be.
To me, there is one huge gap in the content market that Google has yet to control: generic websites. This would be the coup de grace; direct insight into users content, with the ability to advertise alongside.
I think this will happen; Google will eventually offer a free equivalent of a hosted Content Management System - create your templates, manage your content - do everything you need to create and manage your website; a super-Blogger, if you will. All the small organisations and users from across the world who need more than a blog or wiki, but can’t afford or support a content managed website could subscribe for free, and get their content online. The only price would be a couple of Adwords on every page.
And, if the software happened to allow users to define meaning/metadata and relationships between content (as it probably would), then Google could have extremely focussed adverts for each item of content - leading to better click-throughs, and higher revenue.
I don’t think this should worry producers of flexible, large-scale content management systems </blatant plug>. In the same way that I don’t subscribe to the notion that wikis are the ‘Web 2.0′ equivalents of content management systems (Wikis create content, CMS software manages websites), I think most medium and large organisations will still need the flexibility and control of large systems.
What do you think? Is it inevitable that Google will eventually control all online content (and offline too, by the way it’s going)? Or does their more recent strategy of providing services (maps, news, froogle, talk, desktop) imply an altogether different vision?