Although industry analysts are by now accustomed to Google’s sudden decisions to drop products that were still in the process of finding an audience, many were perplexed at the decision to exit an arena where for years Google has been the iconic player. But this morning, as users fumble with Bing and Yahoo as replacement search engines, a strategy is becoming apparent to Internet insiders.
As one Wall Street analyst who refused to be named put it, “Now that through its search and email operations Google knows basically everything about everybody, its corporate database of user data has become the most valuable part of the company. Although up to now Google has been monetizing this data by selling a slow and constant drip of it to advertisers, the way is now clear for Google to squeeze its database into diamonds by filing for patents on every idea that can be gleaned from it. Google will become the greatest patent holding company in the world.'
A Silicon Valley blogger who covers social media offered an example. “Do you remember that time six months ago when you had a great idea for an improved plumbing leak detector and wondered if it had been done before? What you didn’t realize at the time is that that set of Google searches you did one Thursday midnight gave away your approach. You may never get around to filing for a patent on that idea, but Google will."