TechTalk: Google – Search engine or empire?

Written by Amanda Loch on . Posted in Writing

It started as a simple search tool, indexing the World Wide Web. No fancy web design, no flash animation or complex site to navigate.

Now 10 years later, it can still answer almost any question as well as find the best deals, get directions, manage your e-mail, and bring video to your desktop. Style-wise, little has changed since its debut.

Google Inc. was started in 1996 by Larry Page and Sergey Brin as a research project they were working on while earning their Ph.Ds. Focusing on a different method of searching the Net, Page and Brin wanted their product to gauge sites differently, looking for relevant links within Web pages to find quality pages instead of just finding the sites that listed the search term the most allowing the Internet itself to vouch for relevant content. The method worked and Google became a hit. Today it’s common to hear one person tell another to “Google it” when settling bets or trying to explain something.

You may be aware that Google has more features than just web searches, like Google Image and Video search for finding pictures and movie clips on the web, as well as Google News, Google Maps and GMail.

However, with a simple interface that doesn’t really advertise all of Google’s services, you may not know of all the other tools available to you, like Google Earth, a free program for Macs and PCs that allows you to take advantage of millions of satellite images to find almost any spot on the globe, right down to the building.

When I search for my house, I can see my car was in the driveway the day the satellite took the picture. It’s fascinating. You can find the pyramids, fly through a 3-D Chicago, and see information about famous locations. Google Earth is so popular that it has even been expanded to Google Moon and Google Mars, although there’s much less to see there.

Google can help you get a great deal with Froogle, their shopping search tool that even finds eBay auctions, if they are the cheapest way to get your desired product. You can call your relatives and friends all over the world with Google Talk, an instant messaging/voice over IP service that ties right into your GMail account.

Google even owns some sites and services that I didn’t know about until I started researching the company. Blogger (online web log communities), Picasa (photo editing), and SketchUp (3-D compositing program) are all part of the Google empire.

On the subject of empires, it appears that Google is imposing enough to make even the mighty Microsoft waver, with CEO Steve Ballmer calling it a “one-hit wonder.” In one shocking outburst, he threw a chair across his office and vowed to “kill” Google.

Microsoft has yet to tap into many of the new territories Google is finding success in and it may cost the software giant a lot in the near future. It seems that the quick rise and easy popularity Google has gained makes Microsoft’s anxiety warranted.

The rumor mill is abuzz with talk that Google may launch its own Internet service or even create its own operating system or line of computers. Whatever their future plans, Google has the resources and credibility, and more importantly the loyal users, to make it happen.

For a complete list of Google’s services and projects, click here.

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Amanda Loch

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