Phones, self-driving cars, notebook computers, and maps are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google (NASDAQ: GOOGL)’s far-flung operations. The search engine giant is involved in an incredible variety of businesses, some of which you have probably never heard of. A few Google businesses that you might be unaware of include:
- Auto Insurance. Google has been selling auto insurance in the United Kingdom since 2012. Now Google is planning to bring that business to America; the company has set up a subsidiary called Google Compare Auto Insurance Services Inc. that has taken out licenses to sell insurance in 26 states, Forrester analyst Ellen Carney reported in January. The New York Times reported that Google has set up a partnership with a British company called Admiral Group (OTC: AMIGY) to sell car insurance in the USA through its Google Compare website. The service is expected to be rolled out in the United States sometime this year.
- Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) has been experimenting with Google Express, a delivery service that picks up orders from stores and takes them to customers, for some time. Google Express even offers a same-day delivery service in some U.S. cities, including San Francisco. Big name retailers participating in Google Express include Target (NYSE: TGT), Walgreens (NASDAQ: WBA), Whole Foods (NASDAQ: WFM), Costco (NASDAQ: COST), Staples (NASDAQ: SPLS), PetSmart (NASDAQ: PETM), REI, and Barnes & Noble (NYSE: BKS).
- Google has formed an alliance with the peer to peer to lender Lending Club to offer small business loans, The Financial Times reported. Lending Club will provide the loans, which Google will market to entrepreneurs that use its various products and services. Google is also a major investor in Lending Club; in 2013 The New York Times reported that the search engine spent $125 million to buy a stake in the loan facilitator.
- High Speed Internet and Cable TV. Google has rolled out a high speed Internet service called Google Fiber in a number of U.S. cities, including Atlanta, Austin, Charlotte, Kansas City, Nashville Provo and Raleigh-Durham. Google Fiber is a super-fast Internet that is supposed to provide an instant connection to anything online at 1,000 megabytes a second. It will also provide 150 channels of television. Oddly enough, Google Fiber is not yet available at the Googleplex, Google’s headquarters in Mountain View, California, although Google has plans to expand Fiber there at some point in the future.
- Wireless Phone and Internet Service. Google is developing its own wireless service with help from Sprint and T-Mobile, The Wall Street Journal reported. Google wants to sell its service directly to customers like companies like Verizon (NYSE: VZN) do. Google has also asked the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) for permission to test a new ultrafast wireless technology, Forbes reported.
- The Guardian reported that Google has acquired several companies that design and build robots. The most interesting of these is Boston Dynamics, which designs and builds robots for the U.S. military. Boston Dynamics creations include Atlas, a human-shaped robot, and Big Dog, a mechanical mule that walks on four legs. The New York Times reported that Google owns seven robot companies, including Meka, which makes robots that look like people; Redwood Robotics, which builds robot arms; and Industrial Perceptions, which creates computer vision systems—in layperson’s terminology, robot eyes.
- Rockets and Space Vehicles. On Jan. 15, 2015, it was revealed that Google and Fidelity Investments had bought almost 10% of Elon Musk’s privately held rocket and space vehicle manufacturer, SpaceX, for $1 billion. A SpaceX press release stated that the money will be used to finance the development of reusable rockets and advanced satellite manufacturing.
- Last year Google purchased a drone manufacturer called Titan Aerospace. Now Google is planning to test lightweight solar-powered high altitude drones that could provide wireless Internet access to developing countries, The Guardian reported. The drones are supposed to beam Internet signals to your home in a method similar to satellite TV. The drones are supposed to be a cheaper alternative to traditional satellites.
- Credit Cards. Insurance is not the only service that you can arrange through Google Compare. The website also lets you compare up to 60 credit cards from dozens of different banks. Google Compare lets visitors shop for credit cards much like Priceline or Kayak lets you shop for airline tickets and hotel rooms. Visitors to the site can sort cards by a wide variety of features, including interest rate, annual fee, credit rating requirements, and type of card.
10. Google now operates websites that can help you shop for airline tickets and hotel rooms. Huffington Post blogger Suzy Strutner claimed that Google Flights was better at locating and booking airline tickets than travel agents. Strutner also wrote that Google Flights is more advanced than competitors like Orbitz (NYSE: OWW). If you need a hotel room once you get to your destination, Google also operates Google Hotels to help you find a place to stay.