Google is taking all these good ideas lying around. I guess that's the real secret. Innovation is not like a gold rush, the ideas are there in plain sight. You just have to pick them up one by one, when you are ready, and polish them up. Of course it helps if you are very smart, and have an unbelievable cash flow because you were disciplined about your first idea.
So the question now is, why can't Google use the "wisdom of crowds" inherent in the search engine? Of course selling search ads is a form of that. But I mean in the predictive sense. To take a very crude example, if you know the key words searched by people from a particular company, then that could tell you something about what that company is doing. Not in any direct way of course like: the CEO searched for "bankrupcy law". But in a massive way with tiny correlations being detected in mountains of data.... Oh wait how do we know they are not already doing it?