hutcheson - 8:58 pm on Feb 10, 2010 (gmt 0)
This one makes sense. Well, even ignoring the well-known Google approach to development (if the Googletechs are motivated to develop something, it gets developed; otherwise, it gets abandoned.)
Google isn't in the search engine business, or the advertising business. They've always been in the VERY-large-webserver business. At first, the only database big enough to NEED Google webserver farms was ... a search engine. And a lot of their projects have been simple answers to the question, "now that we can host anything so efficiently, what is it that we should host?" high-volume email, U.S. patents, global maps/pictures, books, Usenet archives, personal document archives, P2P videos ... and so on.
But why shouldn't that efficient hosting service be a direct "profit center not a cost center" (in MBA terms, and pardon me while I wash my mouth out with soap).
This is just Google going retail with its core technology.