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Google has big plans for corporate services, expert says

Author says Google patents indicate plans to be app service provider to corporations.

Google may be known as the Web search advertising company but Google has big plans for offering services to corporations, says Stephen Arnold, author of The Google Legacy and a Google patent scrutinizer.

Arnold figures out possible tech company strategies by analyzing their patents. He's come across several patent applications from Google that he says indicate that they plan to use the Google Search Appliance as much more than just a device that lets employees search for data within the internal network. The Google Search Appliance is a "Trojan Horse" that will soon be able to do much more than just search, he says. He cites two patents, "Determination of a Desired Repositor" and "Programmable Search Engine," that he says make it possible to connect a Google Appliance into Google's data centers, almost like a node on the network.

"This connection makes it possible for a licensee (Appliance user) to tap into the computational power and the applications running on Google's servers," he writes in a news release scheduled to be distributed on Monday.

"Even more interesting is that a Google Appliance can send data to Google's servers for inclusion in new information products and charge users a fee for the access to this data." For example, a merchant could push its entire catalog of products directly to Google through its Appliance, or a company could get video or other content directly from Google the same way. Multiple Appliance users could also exchange data with each other.

"Search is today's offering. Tomorrow it will be e-mail, enterprise applications, and a wide range of innovative partnerships to help Appliance licensees leverage information more effectively," Arnold writes.

Just as the Google Search Appliance is a form of outsourced corporate search, Google can position the Appliance as the IT department's helper, handling the research, word processing and other applications a company doesn't want to deal with in-house, he says. The more applications that a corporation can have Google serve and manage through the "data cloud"--as Google puts it--the more money and resources a company can save. This seems to jive nicely with Google's own vision of its future as a Web-based apps provider. During Google's shareholder meeting on Thursday, Chief Executive Eric Schmidt said the company is expanding beyond search and advertising.

"We're going to start using the phrase 'search, ads and apps' to define what we're trying to do," he told reporters before the meeting. "There is a big opportunity before us, which is to move to a new architectural platform...based on the data in the cloud."

A Google spokesman provided this statement in response to Arnold's theory: "Protecting the privacy of information is paramount to Google. This is true of the Google Search Appliance and Google Mini. We have specifically not added features that might be misconstrued as communicating with, such as auto-update functionality or diagnostic reporting. The Google Search Appliance and the Google Mini do not now, nor have they ever, connected to We have no plans for these appliances to connect to Google's data centers and any communication technology on the appliances is not intended for this purpose."