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Search makes google zero dollars. Adwords makes google lots and lots of money. Adwords is about getting their paying customers ads infront of users. Search, product review, gmail, and lots or other apps are ways for google to make money.

Adwords is Googles firehose of money. Their other products help push that or are trying to find new ways to make money.

I'm not sure that Google had such a cogent strategy when it made its blockbuster products and acquisitions, like Gmail, Docs, Picasa, and YouTube. It wasn't obvious that YouTube ads could make enough money to pay for the servers, and indeed it took a while to be profitable. Maybe the strategy was just that Google should do better and cheaper than others.

I think individual engineers looked at things (e.g.) Microsoft made, like Outlook, made it better, and made it free. Nobody should be surprised if the corporate go-ahead was made on the basis of undercutting Microsoft rather than driving ad revenue (at the time).

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