The last two years have seen big product announcements like Google TV, the Chrome Web Store, and Wave, as well as speculative demos of products that still haven’t come to light, like the company’s music service.
So, what’s on tap for this year? Here’s what we’re expecting — along with some things we hope to see but might not be ready yet.
Here comes a Google TV update
Expect more Chrome notebooks
Image: Photo Illustration By Steve Kovach
When Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled its Chrome OS test program last December, the company said that commercial Chrome notebooks would follow in summer 2011. Samsung is one of the announced partners, and detailed specs for its Chrome notebook “Alex” have already leaked. Samsung is also holding a press event on Wednesday after the show is over, so odds are that we’ll see the notebook unveiled during the show. A Chrome tablet? That would be a bonus.
An Android “Ice Cream Sandwich” is on the menu
Image: Jeff Golden, Flickr
Former CEO Eric Schmidt told an audience at Mobile World Congress in February that the next version of Android would reconcile differences between the tablet version introduced this year (Honeycomb, or 3.0) and the most recent phone version (Gingerbread, or 2.3). With so many Android developers at I/O, this is the obvious time to take the wraps off. It’s supposedly called Ice Cream Sandwich.
Google needs to launch a better Android Market.
One of the biggest complaints from Android developers is the Android Market — in particular, it’s too hard for users to find their apps. Developers say they get much better visibility in Apple’s App Store. With competition from alternatives like Amazon’s Android app store, Google has to do better. Android developers would cheer if Google announced better app search in the Android Market — it’s so bad that a third-party built an app to do better — and provided more ways for users to browse.
Google will bring in-app transactions for Web apps.
Image: Wikimedia Commons
Letting customers buy real products and virtual goods from inside apps is a great way for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone and Android developers to make money. Now Google is bringing that in-app transaction model to Web apps, based on technology it got in its acquisition of Jambool last year. It’s introducing the APIs in a session on Monday afternoon.
This could be particularly useful for Chrome OS, which only runs (slightly modified) Web apps.
Google’s Groupon clone, Offers, could be announced
Marissa Mayer is leading Google’s local team, and she’s giving a speech right after the keynote on Tuesday morning.It could be a repeat of her keynote last week at Social Loco, but I/O would be a great venue to throw out something new.
The most logical guess: Google Offers, the company’s Groupon competitor, will go into public beta testing. Google started soliciting businesses and users in Portland, Oregon and a couple other cities to sign up for the service last month, and confirmed that the beta would launch soon.
App Engine for Business — Google’s cloud computing answer to Amazon — goes broad.
One type of “cloud computing” lets developers build Web apps and run them on somebody else’s hardware — this is what Amazon has been doing with great success for a couple years now, and what HP is planning for later this year. Google has its own cloud computing service called Google App Engine, but it hasn’t taken off in quite the same way as Amazon’s. Last year at I/O, the company began previewing a new version of App Engine for Business with the kind of security and uptime agreements necessary for business use. But it’s a closed preview — businesses have to sign up and be invited to participated.
It has to bother Google that Amazon basically owns this market. Look for Google to let App Engine for Business loose into the world this year.
Google might make bigger push into online or social games.
Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) recently posted a job listing for a product manager of games, who will help the company build a platform for social gaming — after all, Facebook owes at least some of its traffic to addictive social games like FarmVille.There’s a “Web Games” track at I/O, but right now it has only one session on promoting games using YouTube. Usually, companies don’t build a whole conference track around one session. So there could be some surprises here.
Will Google announce a music service for Android? (Probably not.)
Image: Tech From 10
The rumors about this one have been swirling ever since Vic Gundotra showed off a prototype at last year’s I/O. Google’s cloud-based music locker service was supposed to launch last year, then was supposed to launch at SXSW in March. Will it finally be unveiled at I/O?Er…probably not — the last reports were that Google had gone back to the drawing board and was now considering a full subscription service, perhaps in partnership with Spotify. But Amazon’s own locker service might be driving Google to act sooner than later. At least music fans can hope.
Larry Page will say hello.
He’s notoriously shy and doesn’t like the press. He couldn’t even be bothered to talk for more than a couple minutes on the company’s first earnings call after he took over as CEO.But he’s also focused on technology, and what better venue for his CEO “coming out” party than a confab of Google fan-geeks. Google hasn’t said wh is leading its keynotes either day, but if Page shows up to kick things off on Monday, it will be a big surprise — and guarantee big press coverage.
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