Search is where Google started, and even though the mission was back then was (and officially still is) to "organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful," no one at Google was really putting many of today's non-search services into a blueprint for success. Many of these products emerged from Google's own internal needs, opportunistic purchases, ideas that curious Googlers with "20% time" suggested and sudden departures into areas not envisioned at first but which made sense as Google evolved.
Danny Sullivan at SearchEngineLand on the idea of Google's hive mind.
The underlying theme with Google is the user. Google does things in the interest of the user.
And here's John Battelle's muscular response:
I don't agree with this. I think Google has made scores of moves calculated by centralized senior management to benefit the company as a whole, AND, at the same time, has green-lit scores of other projects which, taken as a whole, are in no way centrally planned. Examples of centrally planned moves? The AOL deal. The Dell distribution deal. Chrome. Gmail (I disagree with Danny that this was not a centrally planned move. Same with Checkout.) Book search (Google knew it was in for a legal fight and it engaged because it felt it was in the company's, and culture's, best interest.) YouTube (very much a central decision). Ummmm....going public.
From Battelle's Searchblog
After reading these pieces just think now about Google's scope: it is vast.
Even gay marriage.