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November 28, 2005

Google Space Test Flies At Heathrow

Courtesy of TechWeb News

Travelers at London’s Heathrow Airport have been flocking to a free pilot program called Google Space that may be a harbinger of the search firm’s future plans. Inaugurated last Thursday, ten laptops are available for travelers to try out six Google programs: Google Earth, Google Local, Google Toolbar, Google Mobile, Google Mail, and Picasa.

“Travelers seem to love it,” said Oliver Pilgerstorfer, a spokesman speaking on behalf of Google on Monday. The booth is open daily from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and staffed by two Google representatives.

The pilot program is believed to be the first public test bed that could provide data on Google’s plans to establish public and free offerings of its products. Google Space is not wireless, however, like the firm’s vision of its future offerings. However, the pilot provides data on consumer likes and dislikes.

In an e-mail, Pilgerstorfer cited the example of a woman visiting Google Space who used the facility to download photos from her camera in order to free up space from the camera’s memory. A surfer enroute to Australia used Google Space to check out the waves in that country.

“Once completed, the team behind the project will analyze how effective the pilot was and make a decision if it is something to continue,” said Pilgersdorfer. “Having just launched on Thursday last week, it is too early to tell.” The pilot is scheduled to end on Dec. 19.

The pilot site is available for general Web surfing in addition to the Google programs that are available.

Prior to the launch of Google Space, the firm surveyed passengers and found that 71 percent of them wanted to learn more about their destinations. In order of interest, they wanted to have maps of their destinations, weather forecasts, location of tourist traps to avoid, locations of famous sites, and directions to the city center.

“The concept behind Google Space is to provide travelers with something useful and free whilst waiting for their flights,” said Pilgerstorfer.

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