Saturday, September 6, 2008

A Ten Year Old With a Big Future

You can't do some of the things that they are trying to do without eventually facing some challenges from the government and your rivals.

- Danny Sullivan, editor-in-chief of SearchEngineLand

Michael Liedke, "Google Reigns as World's Most Powerful 10-year-Old," Associated Press, via Yahoo News, September 6, 2008

Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google on September 7 1998. "It sounded preposterous 10 years ago, but look now: Google draws upon a gargantuan computer network, nearly 20,000 employees and a $150 billion market value to redefine media, marketing and technology." What started out as a bid by Stanford University graduate students to build a better search engine--with no real business model--has turned into a firm that makes more money than any other on the internet through launching ads on its website based on people's searches as well as on web pages to which people go. In performing those tasks, as well as through its Gmail service, YouTube, and other activities, Google has collected information on hundreds of millions of people--though it is not forthcoming exactly how it uses that information. The company has made advertising agencies anxious because they believe Google has interests taking their place in selling ads across many types of media. Google has also made Microsoft anxious, as it moves to compete with on computers, mobile devices and browsers by placing free software programs on the web, creating its own mobile operating system (Android) and offering its own browser, Chrome.

"Google's expanding control over the flow of Internet traffic and advertising already is raising monopoly concerns....Privacy watchdogs also have sharpened their attacks on Google's retention of potentially sensitive information ..." To fend off government and advocacy-group attacks, Google has initiated sophisticated government-relations activities. Despite these tensions, observers point out that the web today centers around Google and probably will for years to come. John Battelle, an internet publishing executive who wrote a book about Google, put the point succintly. "Google," he said, "is the oxygen in this ecosystem."

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