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Google’s Next Big Play After Travel – Gaming?

In a bit of a “told you so” moment, HitWise’s Heather Hopkins wrote this morning that Google’s acquisition of ITA was something they had been waiting for since 2006, when they first predicted Google’s move into the travel industry. This initial prediction had been made by looking at Google’s downstream visits and looking at where the company lacked a presence.

Today, Hopkins took another look at these same numbers and predicted that conditions are ripe for Google to enter yet another industry – gaming.

In her analysis, Hopkins looked at the top 20 downstream industries visited from Google in June and pointed out that most have an obvious Google counterpart. For “entertainment”, there’s YouTube. For “education”, there’s Google Books and Google Scholar. The list went on. Number 12 on the list of downstream industries is “travel”, for which Google now has ITA. After that? “Games”.

Hopkins says that games is the obvious next step for the company that has its fingers in a bit of everything:

It may have taken four years since our initial analysis for the acquisition but what does clickstream data tell us about Google’s next potential foray? Games. After Travel, the next biggest downstream industry from Google.com is Games and Google does not yet have a presence in that industry. Stay tuned…

Just yesterday, Sarah Perez wrote about a new feature for Google Chrome – the ability to tell which way is up. As Perez writes, it looks like Chrome OS, Google’s upcoming mobile operating system, is getting “ready for gaming”, with developers “hard at work building applications for the Chrome operating system and its accompanying Chrome Web Store.”

The question now, of course, is what gaming company would Google acquire if Hopkins’ hypothesis is correct? Would this be a move in the direction of mobile gaming, as may be indicated by Chrome’s new feature? Or might it be multi-platform, basing itself in the cloud and working both on the Web, on mobile phones and on Google’s newest venture into your living room, Google TV?

Let us know where you think this might all be going and, in the meantime, we’ll see if HitWise has any statistical insight to offer on where Google’s next move may be.

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