Posted by Patrick Chen | 1 comment
Google, Revolutions and World Domination
For the past decade, technology has been defined by Google. The Internet as a medium of communication and knowledge has been neatly packaged within Google’s framework. If you don’t believe me, just google it. What began as an upstart competitor to giants such as Yahoo is now the de facto verb for online searching as well as a multibillion dollar industry. However, to properly understand Google’s current lofty perch in history, we need to trace back through a bloody and imperialistic history.
The ambition of Larry Page and Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founders, is reflected in their mission statement: “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” By simply making useful information available in 0.2 seconds with a single click, Google put the final nail in Yahoo’s coffin. However, Google’s mandate stretch far beyond simply becoming the most powerful and popular search engine in history. Access to information was the ultimate goal and, in order to reach this goal, Google has slowly infiltrated itself into our daily lives: from how we think, interact and manage information to media, education and telecommunication industries.
One of the first major blows Google struck was against the traditional medias. In 2001, Google unveiled Google News, a news aggregator which suddenly made the traditional media irrelevant. As newspaper sales went into free-fall, Google ruthlessly moved on to further industries. Next in line, in 2004, Google launched two major products: Gmail and Google Books. Though Gmail still faces competition from Microsoft and Yahoo among others, Google Books has slowly ushered in a new age of e-books. Amazon has worked hard to try and maintain its place in book sales with the release of Kindle and even Apple has entered the industry with the revelation of the iPad and more specifically the iBook application. The media industry took a further blow when Google revealed their plan to buy Youtube. This left Hollywood and the RIAA furious as Google did not actively take down copyrighted content.
More recently, Google has taken on the telecommunication industry. With the release of Google Voice and the Android, everything from traditional telecommunications to Skype were in danger. Also, with the release of Google Chrome, even Microsoft is feeling threatened, with Mac OSX and Google Chrome both encroaching on a market that once was firmly and decisively in Microsoft’s hands.
However, as of now, none of these products were able to provide a decisive blow to competing companies. Other industries reacted furiously to Google’s attempts at changing the market, with lawsuits being filed and deals being cut. Throughout all this, Google has remained relatively naive. As stated over and over again by Brin and Page, Google is not looking to take over the world, simply to organize it.
Of course, Google has its faults, but slowly, they are starting to redress themselves. What has long been a controversial struggle over censorship in China recently came to a head with Google refusing to continue to censor results. Some claim Google to even be evil, and perhaps with just cause. A company that is infiltrating every facet of our lives deserves some worry. A Google hegemony, no matter how benevolent, is a realistic fear. Google’s slogan of “do no evil” comes to mind as somewhat hypocritical. However, it is important to remember that there is still a choice in much of what Google offers. The problem is that Google is the best at what they do. In their mind, design is no longer responding to a consumer request, but rather understanding, anticipating and then serving our requests.
A decade of domination has come and gone, and Google are still going on strong. Google has without a doubt changed modern day economics and the way people perceive information and the Internet. No longer is business restricted to those who produce goods, but now includes those who organize these goods. Though it has been a decade of Google, the end does not seem in sight. If anything, Google is just expanding and expanding. Google may be hatching some evil plan to take over the world through manipulation, but, more realistically, they are just the best at what they do. Let the Google era run its course.
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