In news that continues to sound a bit weird even after hearing it a few times, according to Bloomberg, Google recently announced that they will be launching a service for delivering groceries and fresh produce to customers. The service will initially be offered in San Francisco and one other city, and will likely expand to other urban areas in the future.
Grocery delivery will work as an expansion of the Google Express service, which currently delivers merchandise and non-perishable dry foods. Because fresh food delivery would be too expensive via the refrigeration and logistics of warehouses, Google will be partnering with local retailers such as Whole Foods and CostCo.
Like many of Google's projects, the reasons behind it are multiple. There is the plain fact that grocery delivery in dense urban areas is profitable, there is the fact that grocery delivery is simply a natural expansion of its current product delivery services, and perhaps most importantly, this will allow Google to compete with Amazon, which boasts a similar service in AmazonFresh that is already making deliveries in several U.S. cities. Google is also promising a next-day delivery service in the Midwest which would reach upwards of 25 million customers in Wisconsin, Ohio, and Indiana.
Google's "let's try this idea and see if it works" method of testing projects and products can lead to great successes such a Gmail, but can also lead to projects that fail to catch on or live up to their potential (Google+ or Google Wave, anyone?). Considering the fact that grocery delivery is an $11 billion business expected to have healthy growth over the next few years, it makes sense that Google would want to get in on the action.
The move by Google is also part of the trend of large tech companies jumping into areas you wouldn't think they would have an interest in, just to expand their customer base (Facebook sending drones into the sky to provide internet to new customers) or create new technologies that will make their jobs more efficient (Amazon's interest in delivery drones) or just because the people who run the company are interested in it (Google's automated cars, life extension science, and all the other stuff it does).
And, as Google has demonstrated, sometimes they do it just to stay in competition with their cohorts. So don't be surprised if in the near future we suddenly hear an announcement from Facebook that they can use your status updates to predict what food you need, and then offer to deliver it to you.