It is never surprising to see Google (GOOG) in the news. Whether it is for acquisitions, new services, updates, court cases, or anything else, it always seems to have a heavy news presence. Following the latest news, I do not expect much to be changing with Google stock, though it may be dropping slightly. This should be minor though, and nothing large enough has occurred to make this huge company suddenly appear weak. Its innovations and changes have just been too small to make a real difference though. It does have some positive news. It is so inconsequential, however, that I think Google stock will only be maintaining a steady price, if it manages not to drop.
Google is attempting to take some business away from companies like Amazon.com (AMZN). It is launching a new service called Google Trusted Stores, which gives customers information about shipping and customer service for various online merchants. In addition to this, Google will provide phone support to people who are struggling with the online merchants. This is certainly an improvement to Google's e-commerce component of its business, but I do not believe the company will ever be able to compare to companies like Amazon (AMZN). I think that this will please people who already use Google's online shopping services, but it is unlikely that this will draw a large number of customers away from Amazon. I do not expect this to have a large impact on either stock.
The company is also trying to improve its services through better offline map availability, but Nokia (NOK) has criticized this update quite a bit. Nokia has offered good mobile mapping and navigation services for years now, and it does not believe Google is making large enough of a change with this. Google's offline mapping services still do not compare to those offered by companies like Nokia. Once again, therefore, Google is pushing forward, but without much gusto. This small step hardly compares to other companies and will not make much of an impact on Google's stock.
One other event has fizzled, and this will also likely have a neutral effect on Google stock: A judge has dismissed the patent-infringement trial between Apple (AAPL) and Google's Motorola Mobility, as neither company could prove damages. This could have been a messy situation for either company, so it may be in the best interest of stockholders that it is going away.
Recently, two smartphone security researchers have discovered various ways to bypass Bouncer, which is the program that keeps malware out of Google Play. This means that malicious applications could make it into the app store on Android phones. It is not as bad news as it may appear, however, as this also puts Google in a place to fix these issues and enhance the security of its system. These problems may not be easy to fix, but Google certainly has the resources to fix them and reassure customers that its app store will be safer than ever. As a result, I think this will have a neutral effect on the stock and may even benefit Google after the problems have been fixed.
In addition to working on its technical issues, Google is taking action to avoid future legal problems. It has begun including new provisions in Apps sales contracts with EU customers. This will help the company, as it has previously encountered criticism for its privacy policies and practices. Court cases can put strains on companies, and this is one more story that demonstrates a lower risk of Google facing legal trouble. This should have a small positive impact on the stock, but this is not its main significance. The main reason this is good is because it will prevent future events that would have negative impacts on it.
While these news stories have been fairly neutral, one recent event may have a much more negative impact on Google. Apple is considering giving up Google as its search engine on the iPhone, at least in China. It will be replacing it with the popular search engine from Baidu.com (BIDU). While U.S. customers may be more unfamiliar with this company, Baidu is a major search engine in China. This change is not official yet, but the decision would have a negative effect on Google and a positive effect on Baidu. It would only affect iPhones in China, and it is unlikely that this will happen right away. The effects from this event, therefore, may be slow in coming.
Other search engine competitors, however, are still working to keep up with Google. Microsoft (MSFT) has recently announced a partnership with Encyclopedia Britannica. It will begin featuring answers from Encyclopedia Britannica on Bing in a way that resembles the Knowledge Graph project from Google. Some have noted that this does not compare to Google's enhancement, but I simply do not think it will matter very much. Now that both companies have something similar, I think people will stop paying attention to it. Neither idea is that revolutionary, but Microsoft's response with this partnership will keep it from falling behind, even if this is such a small change. As a result, I expect this to have a very limited-but-positive effect on Microsoft and no real effect on Google.
One interesting event that may be worth watching for Google investors, however, is the upcoming developments with Project Glass. It is speculative at the moment, but it does appear that it will soon be used by people other than top Google representatives. With Google I/O 2012 taking place at the end of the month, furthermore, the device should be receiving more attention. One hopes that reactions will be positive and that it will meet the high expectations. Investors should watch for responses and demonstrations, especially towards the end of the month with Google I/O. For the moment, the additional hype may benefit the stock, but only slightly until we learn more about the device.
Many of the new innovations for Google and others are rather small and unimpressive, at least in recent news. The one with a little more potential-Project Glass-has yet to have any large amount of exposure. This may be coming soon, but for the moment, these new developments will not have a large impact on Google. The most significant change is that Apple may be switching the default search engine of iPhones in China to Baidu. This may not have a huge immediate effect, but it will pull the stock down a little. Based on recent developments, I would not expect much change in Google stock, although it may be dropping slightly for the moment.
Disclosure: I have no positions in any stocks mentioned, and no plans to initiate any positions within the next 72 hours.