Over the last fourteen years, Google has taken the leading role in shaping the way we interact with the Internet. Starting as a search engine, it has expanded into cloud email, office software, video hosting, social networking and lately, even hardware.
Despite this broad portfolio of projects, the most important component of Google’s strategy is advertising. It’s everywhere – in your search results, on YouTube, in the Chrome browser and on the screen of any Android phone.
Google’s ad revenue funds a never-ending stream of new projects every year. Most of them never get past beta will be purged during Google’s regular “spring cleaning” sessions, but then again, it can afford this kind of waste in the name of innovation.
The company’s mission statement from the outset was “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful”. Apparently doing this important public service also pays well, because this month, Google overtook Microsoft to become the second richest tech company in the world.
This aggressive growth has caused a fair share of problems. In 2010, the company was accused of spying on Wi-Fi networks as part of its Street View project. Google said it was all an accident, and the data was limited to emails and URLs, but failed to dispose of it in a responsible manner.
Later, when the company tried to consolidate its privacy policies, both US and EU authorities went berserk. A separate EU investigation is currently threatening Google with an anttrust fine, unless the company changes its “anti-competitive” practices.
What does the future hold for the world’s favourite search engine? If Google continues to strengthen its position in the mobile device market, confrontation with Apple is inevitable. Many analysts agree that the two companies are already engaged in Cold War-style proxy wars. An all-out conflict between two of the richest corporations in the world will certainly be a sight to see.
So how much do you know about Google?
And if you like it, try some of the others.