As 2009 becomes 2010, Google remains the most interesting technology company. The search giant is involved in so many - probably too many - things and the regulatory environment, if not competition, has begun to heat up.
With that in mind, I offer 10 'New Year's Resolutions' for the crew at the Googleplex, in the hope that Google can, in some cases, change its ways before regulators step in to change them:
1. Do a better job regarding privacy
This seems obvious enough, but Google needs better help users understand what it is (and isn't) doing with the information it gathers about them and their habits.
Ultimately, Google will be ordered to submit to some form of external oversight, so perhaps the company should get ahead of the curve and fund an independent Google privacy watchdog. It would provide counsel to the company and transparency to its users.
I trust Google's current management - as I trust Bill Gates and Steve Ballmer - but users have reasons to fear Google's collection and use of information, even in its search index. There will be restrictions placed upon the company, and I believe that will be a good thing over the long haul.
2. Be more proactive in dealing with gov't
2010 is likely the year the Feds will start moving in on Google. I am especially interested on how the company has used 'free' services, underwritten with ad revenue, to stifle real or potential competition outside of its core search business. Ultimately, Google is going to court.
3. Stay out of the social network business
Google has tried social networking and failed. Knol and Orkut have not come close to success. Give up.
4. Decide it is not a hardware company
I do not like the idea of Google competing with hardware vendors. I though the Motorola Droid was supposed to be Google's idea of what a smartphone should be. Now it's the Nexus One. What will it be next week? My hope is the handset manufacturers will gang up against Google for this sort of behaviour.
5. Likewise Chrome OS hardware
It's great for Google to create specs and reference designs, probably wrong for it to actually brand and sell hardware. I think 'Made for Chrome OS' stickers are as far as it should go.