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2007: How was it for Google?

ZDNet Australia searches through the year that was for Google.

While the search giant's share price continued to rocket to ever more dizzying heights, Google's year was marked by the moon, mobiles and more lawsuits -- along with the usual raft of product announcements.

The year kicked off for Google with the announcement in early January that the company had partnered with China Mobile, the world's largest mobile carrier by subscribers, to provide mobile search capabilities for users of its WAP portal, concluding negotiations that had begun in early 2006.

By the end of the month, the company reported its revenues from the final quarter of 2006 had topped US$3 billion.

In February, Google Maps got serious in Australia as a beta version of the application -- originally developed at Sydney's Googleplex -- was launched with its own Australia-specific domain name. The new service also featured an Australian business listing, driving directions and support for mobile browsing. Earlier in the month, the Australian office also appointed Alan Noble as its new director of engineering.

Meanwhile, in the US, a deal between Google's recent acquisition, YouTube, and broadcasting giant CBS to host licensed content on the video-sharing site fell through.

Google added a wiki-style editing feature and business review capability to Maps Australia in March, followed shortly by the addition of MyMaps; a personalising tool for the application which allows users to embed videos from YouTube as well as text and images within Google Maps.

Also in March, media giant Viacom filed a record breaking US$1 billion lawsuit against Google over copyright infringements relating to content hosted on YouTube. The case is yet to go to court.

The big news in April for the company was its $US3.1 billion acquisition of online ad group DoubleClick amidst competition concerns as, according to some reports, the combination of Google and DoubleClick would account for 80 percent of ads served on the Internet.

April also saw the company preparing for its inaugural worldwide developer day in May, with the company heralding it as an opportunity to get feedback from the development community and discuss its APIs and development tools.

It also took the chance to use its developer day to launch Google Gears, a platform designed to allow Web-based applications -- such as Gmail and YouTube -- to be used offline. Noble said that because the platform had been developed for open source use "any developer developing Web applications will be able to use Google Gears to take their online application and make it work offline as well".

The company launched a range of other applications at the developer day including the Mashup Editor, described by Google as an experimental online code editor for building mash-ups using a simple mark-up language, and Google Mapplets API, a customising tool designed to allow developers to superimpose news, weather reports and a range of other content over Google Maps.

May also saw Google HQ put on notice by a European Commission privacy group when it expressed concern over the privacy policy the company announced in March.

Back in Australia, Google's Alan Noble expressed the company's desire to attract more female engineers, and lauded Australia as one of the top sources for tech-talent globally.

As the year ticked over its halfway point, the company announced that it planned to go carbon neutral by early 2008. As part of its initiative, the company partnered with international organisation The Climate Group to act as an advisor as Google sets about cutting its energy consumption and turning its datacentres green.

The company also enabled an open sign up policy for its Web mail service Gmail in Australia and New Zealand in July, while in the US, head office conceded to the requests of privacy advocates and agreed to cut the lifespan of user cookies by up to 30 years.

Google's acquisition rampage continued with the $US625 million takeover of e-mail security company Postini as the company furthered its ambitions in the enterprise market.

Google found itself in legal hot water again that month -- this time in Australia -- as it faced accusations by consumer watchdog ACCC of providing misleading and deceptive sponsored links which violated the Trade Practices Act.

In August the company added another application to its so called "geo-sphere" when it launched Sky; an add-on to Google Earth allowing users to navigate the stars, developed in conjunction with a number of scientific institutes including the Space Telescope Science Institute (STScI), the United Kingdom Astronomy Technology Centre, and the Anglo-Australian Observatory.

The big announcement for September was the launch of Google Election site ahead of the looming federal election, with campaigning nearing top gear although no official date had been set at the time. Google developed the feature using existing tools such as Maps and YouTube to compile online channels for each of the major parties, as well as general information about Australian politics.

Meanwhile, the company announced in the US that it was sponsoring the Lunar X prize; a competition inviting private teams made up of "entrepreneurs, engineers and visionaries" to build a robotic rover capable of roaming the lunar service and beaming video, images and other data back to earth. Aside from the kudos, Google offered a US$30 million prize purse for the winning team.

October saw the company embark on another foray into social networking with the development of its OpenSocial API, an open source platform allowing developers to create applications for use across multiple social networking sites.

As the year began drawing to a close, November was by far the biggest month of the year for the company in terms of headlines with the company finalising its plans for the launch of Android, its open source mobile platform.

In conjunction with the announcement of its plans for Android, the company also revealed that it had been working with a number of other mobile companies -- such as Samsung and Motorola -- in what was dubbed the Open Handset Alliance.

The company also ran into trouble in Europe again late in November as it was scrutinised by the European Commission for possible breaches of antitrust regulations in its proposed merger with online ad company DoubleClick.

On a lighter note for the company back in Australia, Google's local offices appointed a new general manager, former Fairfax executive Karim Temsamani.

As always, Google closed its year by unveiling its annual Zeitgeist List; detailing the most searched terms of the year in Australia. Amongst the top results were Big Brother, AFL, Beckham, Radiohead -- and, somewhat bizarrely, Hulk Hogan's divorce.