When adventurer Steve Fossett went missing earlier this month, searchers turned to an unorthodox tool to try to find the wreckage of his single-engine plane, thought to have crashed somewhere in Nevada. They looked to Google.
Google released up-to-date satellite images of Nevada so that virtually anyone with a computer could use the company’s satellite image software, called Google Earth, to join the hunt. By the end of last week, Fossett had not been found, but searchers had located about six other mysterious crash sites.
Google Earth is just one of the countless arms the Internet search giant has sprouted in recent years. Google now has a hand in everything from advertising and email to digital libraries and online video. Google might seem to be a company tearing off in all directions, but investors seem to love every one of them. Even though its latest financial results disappointed analysts this summer, profits are up and so is its stock. Google’s share price has gone up nearly 40 per cent in the past year, to nearly $550.
Google’s latest side project involves putting up US$30 million in prize money for the first private group to land a robot on the moon. And last week it launched a website called Google Moon. On top of this there have been ongoing rumours about the gPhone, a Google cellphone that would pave the way
for its entry into the wireless business in competition with Apple and others.
There has been some isolated griping on Wall Street that Google is losing focus by pursuing so many divergent lines of business. But with most of its $13 billion in revenue last year coming from online advertising, and with analysts predicting that ad revenue will rise 45 per cent this year, Google has the cash to do pretty much whatever it wants. M
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