While Google has consistently claimed to be a 'search' company, their actions increasingly suggest a strategy of becoming an all-in-one online provider (think Yahoo!). GMail and Blogger each have a search 'twist'- but let's be honest, these are not natural extensions of search, they are applications with search. And Froogle is a commercialized search service. GMail, Froogle, Blogger and now Picasa are additional ways to get people to use Google when they aren't, well, Googling.
This has basically been Yahoo and MSN's strategy all along, to combine search with content & email, giving viewers less opportunity to leave 'the network'. The Yahoo! login and MSN Passport make it easier to track you across the different applications. On the other hand, Google's login/password systems are not integrated (for instance, I have seperate logins for GMail, Adwords and Adsense). Somehow I think this will be changed soon, with a positive spin such as "so we can learn your preferences and personalize your search".
Google's aquisition of Picasa certainly did not dispel this theory. Did you know that included in that deal was Hello? The following is an excerpt from their Web site:
Hello is a new program that lets you connect directly with your friends to share your digital pictures. If you’ve used an instant messenger program before, you’ve already got the idea—Hello is special because it lets you share your pictures along with your messages.
With Hello, you just pick what pictures you want to show off, and click “Send.” That’s it. Hello takes care of all the hard work. And you and your friends can download full resolution, print-quality pictures from each other, while you’re doing more important things, like talking about your pictures.
It basically works as an IM client (Google Messenger?), and the file-sharing is very well integrated. How long, I ask you, until we see GIM, a Google Instant Messenger? I only pray that I get to be a beta tester!