3 Questions for Google

Motley Fool Rule Breakers is back on the road this week with Karl Thiel and I in Silicon Valley. Our schedule includes stops at Pacific Biosciences and Genomic Health as well IBM's (NYSE: IBM  ) Almaden Research Center and VMware (NYSE: VMW  ) . You can add any of these companies to our free watchlist service at the end of the article to continue receiving updates throughout the week.

But of them all, I'm most excited by the two days I'll be spending at Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) annual I/O developer conference.

Each year, The Big G invites code writers to see new ways to take advantage of its massive network and cloud infrastructure. This year the event is being held at San Francisco's Moscone Center, a megaplex that's held court for Macworld and other major tech events. More than 5,500 are expected to attend.

Most observers (me included) expect Google to answer or at least address lingering questions about its business at this year's I/O. Here are the three that gnaw at me as an investor:

1. How will Google deal with Android fragmentation? Should it care?
A confluence of reports says fragmentation is a problem but not a big enough one for developers to care about. Consider these three soundbites:

  • A recent survey conducted by Baird found that 56% of developers believe fragmentation in Android is a "meaningful" or "huge" problem.
  • The same survey found that 71% of developers writing for Android while 62% were creating software for Apple's (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) iOS.
  • A somewhat similar survey from IDC found that 91% of developers were "very interested" in writing for the iOS while 85% were as enthusiastic about Android.

Talk about incredible. Android may be messy, but coders love it about as much as they love iOS. We've seen these sorts of results before, in the early '90s when Windows was rising to prominence. Does that mean Google should leave Android alone? Or do developers deserve to have their concerns addressed?

2. What's the strategy for Chrome OS?
A new, separate yet Googly operating system made a lot of sense when netbooks were the "it" thing. But now Android has a massive developer following and tiny laptops have given way to tablets. Google even has a flavor of Android for tablets: Honeycomb.

But the story doesn't end there. The Chrome browser already acts a lot like an OS, accessing graphics processors directly in order to run Web-based apps at hyperspeed. Forthcoming features include technology for transforming speech into text within the browser and better rendering of 3-D visuals.

 

Each seems intended to make Chrome more like an OS than a browser, and it's this sort of approach that has users taking to it in greater numbers. According to new data from Net Applications, Chrome's share of the browser market rose to 11.94% in April while both Firefox and Internet Explorer declined. Are Google and its shareholders better served by going after the browser crown, or is having a full-fledged Web OS still a worthy goal?

3. What is Google's social media strategy?
None of us can fairly expect CEO Larry Page to get on stage and reveal all there is to know about Google's social media strategy but some directional clarity would be nice. Is it better to make all of Google's varying services social a la the +1 button, or is there room for a new and distinct social media service such as the rumored Circles? Right now, all we know is that bonuses are tied to The Big G's social success.

What question would you ask Google? What troubles you most as an investor? Or, conversely, what keeps you from investing in Google's stock? Please use the comments box below to let us know what you think.

The Motley Fool recently introduced a free My Watchlist feature that allows users to stay ahead of the curve and keep up to date on all the companies we're visiting during this week's Silicon Valley trip. Add these companies to your watchlist today:

Google is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Genomic Health, Google, Pacific Biosciences, and VMware are Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendations. Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended members create a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple, Google, and IBM at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool owns shares of Apple, Google, and IBM. The Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. Its disclosure policy prefers to start with a good breakfast. Don't we all?


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Help us keep this a respectfully Foolish area! This is a place for our readers to discuss, debate, and learn more about the Foolish investing topic you read about above. Help us keep it clean and safe. If you believe a comment is abusive or otherwise violates our Fool's Rules, please report it via the Report this Comment Report this Comment icon found on every comment.

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2011, at 9:57 PM, deran wrote:

    My question is when will Google buy Sprint? This would give them the complete package. With their resources and innovation they could revolutionize the cell phone industry and at the same time wipe out Apple. What are they waiting for?

  • Report this Comment On May 09, 2011, at 9:59 PM, NJT07 wrote:

    I missed the boat on google when it was around 100$ a share back in 2005 ( was deployed and missed the IPO, stupid deployment...) and have kept thinking that google, like netflix (which I sold at 130$ and have been kicking myself for) cant go any higher and that they are overvalued. Now I feel like the share prices are too high to get into now, cause just like electronics, as soon as I buy the stock it will plummet...

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