Once upon a time, Google was a little search engine with big, big dreams. Today, Google is literally trying to take over the world. From online advertising to self-driving cars, energy trading to cartography, there seems to be no limits to the aspects of technology this corporate behemoth is attempting to completely take over.
Sure, Google is responsible for some insanely useful and creative advancements. Its revenue models literally transformed the internet. But at what point is diversification a downfall? When is Google simply just too big for its – and everyone else’s – own good?
Google’s rivalry with Facebook has been another driving force in its near-constant evolution. From direct competition in the social networking space through Google+ to full-on assaults in the advertising arena, we can thank this spirit of competition for bringing about more and more useful tools and innovations.
Let’s examine the areas big and small that Google is attempting to dominate (and almost always successfully) – then you be the judge if this once singularly-focused company has perhaps expanded beyond any reasonable capacity to keep it real.
Search and Advertising
Advertising has always been at the very core of the company’s structure, and it’s still the bread and butter that drives Google forward. All those searches would be irrelevant to Google if it hadn’t mastered the art of online ads. Here are the many facets of their digital ad domination:
- AdWords – the text-based ad system that is the backbone of their search platform
- AdSense – the software program responsible for delivering the ads across the web
- AdMob – the heart of Google’s mobile advertising business
- DoubleClick – the family of ad management tools targeted at ad buyers
At the end of 2013, advertising still made up 95% of Google’s revenues. If Google did nothing else, it would still be a tremendous success.
Office and Map Applications
Next up, Google is also well-known for its suite of productivity tools, including Gmail, Google Drive, and Calendar. Simply called Google Apps, these programs are becoming more and more popular amongst online businesses. This is also a space that Google has clearly mastered.
Speaking of domination, Google Maps is also the most widely used map app as well. They have been fiercely innovative as a mapping company, adding invaluable features like Street View to the digital mapping experience. Google Earth takes people on a 3D journey of the planet, and Panoramio aims to create a 3D map of every street in the world. If that isn’t enough exploration for you, take a trip around Google Mars.
Android phones have officially given the iPhone a run for the money, and Google’s aggressiveness in the mobile space was most highlighted when they purchased Motorola for $12.5 billion dollars. This purchase is another example that Google is not afraid to play in the hardware space, despite their unprecedented success in software production. This is also a trend that’s not likely to dissipate.
Operation Systems and Hardware
In addition to the most popular mobile operating system in the world, the formidable Android, Google also runs Google Chrome, including the Chrome OS. And now they’re in the hardware game too, having released the Chromebook to much fanfare. In other words, if you desired to have all your devices run exclusively on Google – both hardware and software – your wish has now been granted. But is that really a good thing?
Google was an early adopter to online publishing, launching Blogger in the very early days (wisely so, as it’s another obvious place to serve millions of ads.) Google Sites aids folks in website publication, and Picasa, also now owned by Google, is one of the largest photo sharing sites.
The Video Capital of the World
Google is the proud owner of YouTube, which means it clearly dominates online video too. The latest news is that Google is working on building their own TV network too, which would expand their entertainment stronghold exponentially, even past the current Google TV streaming service.
Shopping and Payment Portals
Since it’s not a company looking to be left out of any corner of the web, Google plays in the online shopping space as well. Google Play is their app store, and if the current trend continues, it will also become a full-fledged shopping portal. Google Wallet is their popular payment processor, used not only across the internet, but increasingly in brick and mortar shops as well.
Social Networking and Communications
Whether or not you deem it successful, Google+ has made quite an impression. It may not be the Facebook killer the company dreamed of, but it’s become an integral SEO tool and a popular hangout for many niche communities.
Expanding the Edges of Technology
As if all of the above isn’t enough, Google wants to own the future as well. Google Glass has received scads of mixed press, but one thing’s for certain: it’s already a game changer. Add to that self-driving cars, space elevators, and even teleportation exploration, and it’s obvious Google is not playing small. This is a company that wants to redefine technology, on every level.
So, the question is – has Google gone too far into the world of technological innovation? Are they too big, or perhaps the most influential company in our lifetime? Or both?