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What will the investors at Google’s I/O conference look for?


Google’s annual I/O conference kicks off today with a basket of goodies for software developers, but for investors it will take some effort to separate the substance from the hype.

Google’s income is mainly derived from advertisements and much of what will be presented at the I/O conference will not have immediate impact. Google’s products on view usually tend to be less complete and its keynotes less focused, unlike Apple (AAPL) and Microsoft (MSFT).

Just in this month, Apple released new software features to make iPhones, iPads and Macs more appealing. Microsoft too had products which were ready for use.

But Google’s I/O seems not to click with the investors. Their new product or service at the conference may not become important soon.

A case worth mentioning is the 2008 I/O when Google boasted of the Android operating system; and it was not until after about three years that it significantly hit the market.

And in 2011, Google showed off inexpensive laptops that were designed to run its Chrome operating system. They even treated the attendees of the I/O to free Samsung Chromebooks. But this also had to wait until 2013 when the Chromebooks began to gain traction, but mainly in large enterprise customers and within schools.

That means the much hyped products and services that Google will show off today will take some years to gain footing; may be in 2016 or even in 2017.

It is almost probable that the fitness trackers and smartwatches that Google executives will display today will not sell in big volumes. But they will definitely set the stage for competition with whatever Apple will release this year, and also for further fine-tuning.

However, the home-automation hardware looks like a good bet for some investors. This is because Google is operating more on the Apple model in that market, thus making money upfront on the sale of the device. The acquisition of Nest gives Google a chance to benefit directly from consumer gadget purchases.

Consumers already pay $249 for a thermostat or $99 for Nest smoke detector. And soon they will pay for automated home cameras because Nest is buying Dropcam.

Apart from the home-automation hardware, the other Google’s new products and services may not tickle the investors. More so offering another iteration of Google TV, making apps that are Android-compatible for cars and revamping the Nexus hardware line with the Silver line.

These may follow the other hyped products and services at Google’s past I/O conferences that have ended up as total letdown. Among them are the Google Wave of 2009, the Google TV version of 2010 and the Google Music of 2011. These never left any mark in their respective markets.

The biggest flop was in the 2012 I/O conference where attendees were given Nexus Q, Samsung Chromebox, Nexus 7 tablet and Galaxy Nexus phone. None of these products became a hit even thought they hit the biggest markets for computing like desktops, tablets, smartphones and set-top boxes.

In today’s I/O conference, investors have high hopes of finding a product or a service that is more enticing.

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