I discovered this interesting post by A J Kohn. Some of the stuff Google does can seem rather odd for a company whose core business is internet searches and advertising. It makes more sense, he says, if you consider that Google’s “evil plan” (tongue in cheek) is to get people to use the internet more – which will mean more displays and click-throughs for Google’s ads.
Kohn seems to be a well-regarded figure in online search marketing, so he knows his e-onions.
The example that struck me most was the project to make a self-driving car. Why on earth would Google be interested in this, apart from general tech-fun? Well, he says, if you turn a commuter from a driver to a passenger, that’s an extra hour a day (on average) they can be accessing the internet. Now that’s long-term planning.