The news that Google hired Vint Cerf has resulted in lots of speculations about what they are upto. Now a days every announcement by Google does that — they are the most watched company.
I am not surprised about the trajectory that Google is following — interestingly this is very similar to Microsoft. Once a company is flush with money and has the leadership position in INdustry, they start building a strong research lab. This was happening at in the last century — AT&T, GM, IBM, Microsoft — and continues happening in this century. In most cases, people like Vint Cerf are brought on board not because there is a specific plan but because these people can shape long term agenda.
It is nice that Google has started building that. USA needs strong research labs and hopefully Google will build one of the best — they have resources and seem to have the ambition.