Highs and lows for Google in 2013

Highs and lows for Google in 2013
Did 2013 give Google got reason to celebrate?

Unlike the past few years, Google in 2013 hasn't been all about innovation. This year, Mountain View got serious, trimming its services and melding them together, and Google hasn't been afraid of upsetting any of its users – and it definitely has at times.

Google's year hasn't just been about consolidating, and it's also been about cash. Making it, spending it and bending the rules with it.

So without further ado, let's take a look at Google's report card for the year 2013.

The highs

Google buys Waze and swerves the OFT

In 2013 we saw some huge purchases in the tech world, as the big five really threw their weight about, but Google's buyout of Waze may just be the best.

Google bought the Israeli social traffic service back in June for a cool $1bn, and given the deal was almost blocked by the Office of Fair Trading, that looks like a canny price. If the OFT ever investigates your shopping basket, you know you're onto a good thing.

What's more, Google hasn't wasted any time putting its new charges to work. Waze traffic is already part of the excellent update to Google Now telling people how late home they're going to be.


Google has Waze of making you walk

Google's Goliath stock price

If you thought Google couldn't get any richer, then think again. Back in October the search giant's share price jumped a whopping 13.3% overnight and has grown around 35% over 2013, as its mobile advertising strategies started to gain traction.

It's an astonishing and sudden growth in company value, given Google's already rampant success over the last decade, yet its worth of just $334bn means it still lags behind Apple, which is valued at a colossal $461bn.

Chromecast is a top seller

One of the surprises of 2013 was the Google Chromecast, which is essentially a USB stick that lets you watch internet TV shows. It's hardly Apple's iTV, but it seems to have taken off.

The wonder-dongle that enables Android users to stream to their TVs and access (a few) apps and content was Amazon's biggest selling gadget in October 2013. What's more, hints of an upgrade next year mean there might be a bright future ahead.


All that glitters is Chrome for Google

Welcome to the Nex' episode

With Google's purchase of Motorola starting to yield devices – namely the Moto X and the Moto G, you'd be forgiven for concluding that the Nexus project was dead. Why would Google compete with its own devices by sponsoring a Nexus project, especially when the health of Android smartphones has never been better?

Well, it's best not to trouble yourself with that unfathomable question and just take a second to salute the fine array of Nexus's (Nexi?) to hit the shelves this year.

The superb $300 LG-built Nexus 5 takes the plaudits by becoming the first truly competitive Nexus smartphone after the near-miss of the Nexus 4 last year. However, the second Asus-flavoured Nexus 7 also didn't disappoint, with its upgraded the screen and slimmer build.

Google Play 50bn app milestone

It doesn't feel that long ago that Android's limited app store was a reason to keep things Cupertino, but in July 2013, Google's rapid rise to 50 billion app downloads showed that its Google Play store is thriving.

It's also starting to pay developers, too. In the first half of 2013 Google paid more to app developers than the whole of 2012, and this will only encourage more devs to make apps for Android.

Google Play

Google Play reached an app milestone in 2013

Android rams home its advantage

Google will be delighted that Android has truly overtaken the iPhone in 2013, and its domination of smartphone sales is now evident across the board. By Q3 2013, 70% of global sales were of Android handsets, and its premise of choice over a premium price seems to be paying off.