Charles Baudelaire once said, "The greatest trick the devil ever pulled was convincing the world that he did not exist." Fast-forward 150 years or so, and consider that it may turn out that the greatest trick Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL ) ever pulled was convincing the world that it was not a device company. Well, right up until it reminded us in resounding fashion that it was, in fact, a world-class device company.
When Google released Chromecast, the device was an immediate success, selling out and going on back order both from Google itself and also from Amazon.com and Best Buy. This has been a significant departure from some recent Google projects that have been glossed over as fun little experiments -- Project Loon, Google Glass, and even Google Fiber. Much of what was written about these projects was couched in the assumption that Google is a search company that builds stuff to support that effort. Despite reaching a global market share, according to IDC, of 79.3% with Android, the free nature of the OS means it's often overlooked.
While Chromebooks -- or ultraportables -- have become the fastest-growing segment of the PC market, again, they are often looked at as a quirky afterthought. I think that's exactly what Google wants, and exactly why you should be jumping on the bandwagon early. By the time it becomes obvious that Google is a legitimate threat to Apple (NASDAQ: AAPL ) and Samsung in devices, a big part of the stock's move may have already been missed.
Chromecast was just the beginning
While Chromecast has received some mixed reviews, some believe it has the potential to be a game-changer for the streaming industry. The device isn't perfect, but it is cheap, works easily, and is clearly in hot demand. Unlike Google Glass, which at $1,500 is drawing more press than consumer buzz, Chromecast is a seller.
Along these same lines, Google looks to be stealthily preparing to explode into the smart-watch world. GigaOm recently reported that Google had acquired WIMM Labs to drive its ability to enter the new product segment. The story also noted that the WIMM team was working with the Android development team, suggesting that Google is looking to move quickly to market rather than park the project in multi-year development mode. Samsung is expected to roll out its own smart watch on Sept. 4, and Google may be close on its heels.
In addition to making it an entrant in the new product segment, the WIMM acquisition demonstrates how seriously Google takes another coming trend in technology. With add-on devices such as smart watches, Glass, and other wearable tech, you should expect to see your smartphone become the hub through which many of these other devices draw support. In this context, the importance of the integration between the OS and the hardware becomes obvious -- suddenly, the acquisition of Motorola seems to make a little bit more sense. As the next wave in technology is ready to unfold, it seems clear that Google is more than ready.
For the past period, Apple has been the undisputed heavyweight in personal electronics, with Samsung recently emerging as the only real competitor. Google has successfully downplayed its efforts and not looked like a real threat to most. I think that's about to change and that getting in now has the potential to reap significant rewards over the near term. Apple and Samsung are positioned to respond, but as things stand, Google is a stock to include in your portfolio.
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