If it weren't already patently obvious, we now have positive proof that Google
Ahem. Sorry, got a little carried away there. It's hard not to, really.
Big G just released a new mini-application with ties to Google Maps and (importantly) to your Google account. Through the new Google Latitude feature, you can let people know where you are at all times. Give friends, family, and anybody else with a pulse and a Google account an invitation, and then they can track you, James Bond-style, through the GPS functions of your cell phone.
Without a GPS-enabled phone, this trinket becomes much less interesting, though you can still update your location manually through any old browser. You can also lie about your location to some users while showing the truth to others, and everything is password-protected.
Show me the money!
At this point, investors are tearing out their hair and wailing like forlorn spirits. Neat trick and all, but "what's in it for Google?"
It's very simple, Fool. Like a gazillion cool-but-pointless features before it, Latitude is a land grab. If your uncle, significant other, favorite stalker, or parole officer wants to track your whereabouts -- or let you track theirs -- they need a Google account. It's yet another way to entice the suspicious or the uninterested to sign up.
What's the big deal?
So Latitude won't make a direct impact on Google's top or bottom lines anytime soon, and probably not ever. But it's part of a master plan to make everyone carry a little bit of Google with them wherever they may roam. It'll track your movements, your 'Net usage, maybe your shopping habits too. I don't see Yahoo!
Then, one fine day, Google will use all of that delicious data -- properly anonymized, of course -- to power the most targeted and effective advertising network ever seen, across multiple channels like TV, radio, online, digital billboards, and 10 places I haven't thought of yet.
You ain't seen nothing yet. What we have today is just the embryonic stage of what the adult Google will look like.
Further marketing Foolishness:
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. You can check out Anders' holdings or a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.