Google+ Bowling: Real Life Bowling Rethought for Real Life

google-bowling-april-foolsOne area that has been woefully underserved by Google is the bowling community. Today, Google has announced plans to right that wrong with the introduction of Google+ Bowling to Portland, Oregon, soon to also launch in NYC and California.

What will Google+ Bowling offer? Why, bowling of course. Twenty-five lanes of bowling, rethought for real life. From Google’s announcement:

Larry and Sergey founded Google because they wanted to help solve really big problems using technology. Among the most basic of human needs is the need to throw a strike. Yet, bowling remains an area that has yet to realize its technological and sharing potential.

Most people don’t realize that Sir Henry Bowling, the original inventor of the game, was actually a mathematician. He invented the game as a method of measuring social interactions and velocity computation. Part of Google’s ranking methodology is based on these findings and this is their way of honoring this great mathematician and entrepreneur.

Now we want to make Google, Google+, bowling, and you all better by including you, your relationships, your interests, your identity, your pet names, your passwords, your secret questions, our ads, your searches, your check-ins, your status updates, your credit card information, your political leanings, your current location, and so much more. And so begins the Google+ Bowling project.

Google+ Bowling will be unlike any bowling alley you’ve ever seen before. It will blow away this real bowling alley located at one Google campus:


Image via Chris Chabot/Google+

+Bowling: Time to Play

Take a yummy complimentary cookie at the door and then prepare to be bowled away as your bowling safari begins. You’ll find two Google TVs hanging above every aisle. Balls will be colored as you’d expect, in the Googley colors of blue, red, green, and yellow.

For good bowlers, when you throw a strike, Google will give you the option of sharing the news with your Google+ Circles. You will also be prompted to upload a video replay directly to your YouTube channel, which you must sign up for when you enter the Google Bowling facility.

However, if you throw a gutter ball, Google’s search engine will appear on screen and offer some personalized searches related to bad bowling, such as “how to bowl better” and “bowling tips”, with ample links to Google’s video sharing site and the second largest search engine in the world, YouTube.

Bowling Signals, BowlRank & Secure Bowling

For the truly great bowlers, Google has even rethought the perfect score. Yes, 301 is the new 300 because Google is also introducing the Google + 1 Pin, which will only be set after you’ve hit the magical 300 score. Knocking down that final +1 Pin will permanently redirect you into some rare company atop Google’s rankings…of Google bowlers, that is. But watch out for the cantankerous Al Gorithm, who is constantly throwing the bowling rankings (BowlRank) into chaos despite your best bowling signals.

No need to keep score, Google Analytics will do that for you. Check your Google TV screen after every throw and you’ll be kept up to date in real time what your current score is, as well as demographic, geographic, and social data on all those strangers who are viewing your game behind you.

Not secure enough? Google will also offer a SBL (secure bowling layer), which is essentially Incognito bowling. For your privacy, your score will appear as (not provided) for you and anyone else viewing your game. Google AdWords advertisers will still have access to this data, however.

Some may not like the fact that if you play too slowly, Google will enforce a bowling speed penalty and lower your score. But, as a Google spokesperson pointed out, “we’re not forcing anybody to bowl in our bowling alley, even if it’s the greatest most biggest bowling alley in the tri-state area.”

What Google’s Bowling At

But bowling isn’t just for people, according to Google. For those concerned that they’re using their bodies “a bit too much” or those in the midst of an epic slump, Google will give the option of “self bowling” balls. Basically, these “throwerless” mono-monostatic balls will throw themselves at 10 waiting pins by using a combination of tiny video cameras, lasers, Google Maps, and batteries from unsold Google tablets.

Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt, who happened to be discussing the future of Google technology in an unrelated unattended event at 4:01 this morning, hinted at the coming announcement hours before Google’s blog post went live.

“It’s a bug that bowling was invented before computers,” Schmidt said. “Your bowling balls should bowl themselves.”

Schmidt also mentioned that a small army of elves will follow all bowlers around, keeping detailed logs on their every gesture, word, and thought. “With your permission,” Schmidt stressed, “there will be no option to opt-out.”

Google Bowling is currently in beta testing and will be free for players (probably until right around the time all the other bowling alleys in town go out of business). It should rollout to more cities soon. Perhaps by next April Fools’ Day, you’ll have one in your city. Or not.

Related reading

Improving personalization with machine learning
The finite era of "actionable insights"
Four initiatives B2Bs must tackle now to win in 2020