The extent to which Google governs the internet today is unsurpassable. Google has tactfully developed products and services that are ubiquitous in the cyber realm, in addition, these products and services are user friendly designed to meet the consumer needs, encompassing current and potentially future market trends.
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Google seems to set standards for the industry by influencing every sector and reasserting the company’s market dominance. This document will highlight Google’s efforts in revolutionizing the internet industry focusing specifically on products, services, market command and their usability.
Google has greatly invested in internet based search engine, software, data and advertizing. AdWords, a Google subsidiary, has the primary function of income generation from advertisements. Other than Google’s core web search engine, it has successfully developed a series of online services as well as acquiring other internet-based brands in collaboration with some innovative online companies.
This has led to the Company’s rapid growth since it was incorporated in 1998. According to Pandia Search Engine News (2007), Google has established over one million servers and three million computers worldwide to handle search traffic and support their online products and services, which translates to twenty-four Pet bytes of processed data each day.
Alexa (2011) lists www.google.com as the most visited site on the internet, more so in the United States and several other countries in the world. It also ranks highly other Google owned sites such as YouTube, Blogger, and Orkut.
As a market leader, Google has been criticized on issues such as violation of privacy, copyright, censorship as well as high-energy consumption of the servers. This has not legally hurt Google because most of these criticisms are based on issues that do not feature in the cyber laws (Rosen, 2008).
Google Web Search
According to Alexa (2011), over the last three months, Google Web Search has been the most utilized search engine on the internet. On October 10, 2011, approximately 48% of the people who logged into the internet visited Google’s search engine with 27% spending an average of thirteen minutes.
On the above mentioned date, Google ranked first in the United States of America, Iran, South Korea, Bangladesh to mention a few. It ranked second in India, Brazil, Netherlands, Algeria, Ukraine and ranked third in most European countries including, United Kingdom, Germany, Italy.
Google search engine is a simple website that features a search bar in the middle. This simplicity has not changed much for the last fourteen years. In addition, the website contains eight links. The links are located at the top left corner of the interface.
The first one is Google Plus, second link is the World Wide Web, the third link is Videos, the fourth link is Maps on the Internet, the fifth link is to leading news items worldwide, the sixth link is to Google Mail and the last link labeled “more” is an open door to over ten links. It is not easy to imagine such a simple site with so much to offer.
Compared to other leading search engines, Google has been remarkable, which explains the reason why it has set precedence in ‘search’ on the internet.
According to Alexa (2011), compared to Google, Yahoo Search ranked fourth with 23% of internet user visits on 10 October 2011 a position it has maintained for the last three months. Bing Search on the other hand did not even come close to top ten most visited sites.
Google Plus is a social networking site launched on 28, June 2011 and is one of the newest products from Google. It integrates features such as friendship circles, social hangouts and mobile phone contacts. According to Par (2011), Google Plus is an ambitious answer to Face book.
A day after the launch, users were asked to invite friends to Google Plus, this activity was put on hold the following day after an overwhelming demand for accounts (Shaer, 2011). By 6 August, individual account holders received 150 invites (Brinkmann, 2011). Google Plus is one Google’s services launched to enable it exert significant influence on the internet.
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Google Videos is a product that Google launched on January 25, 2005 (Blogoscoped, 2005). Google Videos has transformed viewing and downloading of videos on the internet. Acquisition of YouTube in 2006, added to Google Video’s service as Google inherited a huge collection of videos. However, Google disabled the video upload feature three years after You Tube’s acquisition.
Google Videos has a huge video base ranging from television programs, documentaries, movie trailers to educational materials, amateur media to professional media.
In 2009, Google in collaboration with Aardvark’d:12 Weeks with Geeks alongside Waterborne launched the Google Video Store. Content providers for this service included CBS Broadcasting Inc. (CBS), National Basketball Association (NBA), The Charlie Rose Show and Sony BMG.
Internet users can access this internet based mapping application at no cost. The service offers street maps and other features such as route planners for non-commercial use. The pan able map images are not live, but updated periodically, as they could be several weeks or months old. This service makes available satellite images for most urban areas around the world in high pixel resolution.
However, some areas around the world have been blurred for security reasons (Back, 2005). Coded in java script and XML, this application has made it easy for users to reverse engineer it producing other scripts. This permits users to custom tune it for use on their individual websites.
With this development, Google launched Google Map API in 2005 to allow users adopt the maps in their websites (Taylor, 2005). This Application Programming Interface has been upgraded to use Adobe Flash application from java script, making it applicable for retrieving static images and geo coding for web services.
It also incorporates automobile navigational tools for drivers, which has attracted a huge user base across 350,000 websites making it the most used application-programming interface on the internet (ProgrammableWeb.com, 2011).
Google has also made it possible for users to get maps on mobile devices; this follows the introduction of Google maps for Mobile phones in 2006. Soon after in 2007, Google introduced “my location” with the release of Google Maps for Mobile 2.0.
By December 15, 2008, the service was available for most smart phone platforms including Android OS in iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad, Windows Mobile, Nokia- S60, Windows Mobile, Symbian OS, BlackBerry, Sony Ericsson K800i, and Palm OS (Google, 2010).
This virtual geographical information application initially developed by Keyhole incorporated, maps the earth by superimposing satellite pictures and geographic information system’s three-dimensional globe. Google Earth shows satellite pictures of the Earth’s surface where users can see features on the ground from a bird’s eye view, most of these images are covered in not less than fifteen meters of resolution.
It applies three-dimensional representation of terrain data received by National Aeronautics Space Administration’s Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (Farr et al., 2007).
Google Earth has many uses among them; it can be used to assess disaster struck areas on the Earth’s surface, for instance, flood or earthquake prone regions.
It is also beneficial in a classroom setting as an instructional tool (Rescigno, 2010), teachers are already taking advantage of this application in lesson planning and in teaching subjects such as geography and social sciences (Wyatt, 2010).Google Earth is available in 34 major languages of the world.
Google Earth incorporates features that have made it very popular among internet users (McCollum, 2008). Tuned to suite users, these features include, “Panoramio,” this feature replaced “Geographic Web” on March 2010, after Google acquired Panoramio, a photo sharing geo location website. It enables users to access map coordinates, a significant geographic tool.
The flight simulator in Google Earth is a great attraction for internet users; it allows users to simulate F-16 fighting Falcon at maximum speeds and high altitude. The Cirrus SR 22, also featured in the flight simulator on the other hand, offering reduced speeds at minimum altitude. Version 5.1 has the capacity to make users experience under water actions as well.
Sky mode feature was added in 2007, it enables users view a simulation of the galaxy. (Google, 2011). The partnership with Space Telescope Science Institute in this venture was strategic and authenticated the application (Knight, 2007). The Street View is a wonderful feature integrating a 360° panoramic view of selected city streets around the world.
The other interesting feature in this application is the “Water and ocean.” This allows users a three-dimensional view of underwater surface of the ocean with zoom capability. This feature integrates information from world-renowned scientists and oceanographers (British Broadcasting Corporation, 2009).
Historical Imagery feature in Google Earth is only available in version 5.0 and allows users to peruse archived records of different places (Hanke, 2009).
Google, based on Krishna Bharat’s idea (Glaser, 2010), developed this service and launched it in 2002. Google News automatically selects news items from internet by aggregation algorithm. It aggregates content from over 25,000 publishers, which can be accessible through Google News for 30 days from aggregation date (Cohen, 2009). In addition, Google News is available in 25 major languages of the world.
Google News allows users to search for news by date and time of publishing. Users can also custom the search by national audience. In addition, they have the option of subscribing in order to receive news alerts via Really Simple Syndication (RSS) feeds. The Cookie option allows users to compile stories from different Google News editions. This application enables users to create custom pages that integrate Google Search History.
In 2006, Google News added a ‘News Archive Search’ feature. This feature allows users access archives dating back 200 years by clicking on the ‘time line view’ option. Google News provides scanned news materials to facilitate the archive database (Soni, 2008).
Interestingly, in 2007, United Airlines lost $ 1 billion due to an article archived in 2002 but appeared on Google News as current most viewed item (Helft, 2008). This incident was an indication of the way Google has revolutionized news on the internet.
Developed in 2004, Gmail is a free email service that is accessed as secure web mail. The initial storage for Gmail was 1 Gigabytes for every account holder, but was later upgraded to 4 Gigabytes due to stiff competition for storage capacity in the market (Craddock, 2010). By October 11, 2011, Gmail was mentioned as having 260 million active email accounts worldwide (Terdiman, 2011).
There are features in Gmail that are comparable to none in the industry portray Google’s sophistication, dedication and zeal to dominate the market. These include the current storage capacity of 7 Gigabytes for individual email. Users needing more storage are able to rent on a yearly basis (Google, 2007). Gmail Lab is a link that enables account holders to test new Gmail features.
This is gives the webmail engineers to assess user input or review of Gmail features. The Spam filter helps users deflect unwanted email. Account holders may suggest to the system ways of handling specific messages (Chitu, 2007). Mobile devices can also access Gmail; this was made possible by the introduction of the Gmail Mobile feature. Users are able to compose, read, reply emails just as on a personal computer (Kroeger, 2009).
In 2010, “Google introduced a two-pane layout that is sent automatically to Gmail users on iPad” (Nicolaou, 2010). Gmail also availed a voice over data feature, which in addition to voice calls allow users to chat and send text messages at no cost to other account holders and to mobile phone worldwide at a fee.
Nonetheless, Gmail allows users to make free video calls to other Gmail account subscribers. On the launch date, this service handled over 1 million calls (Shankland, 2010)
Google developed this service to make it easier for internet users to search for images. Images are searched based on their file names and the search results are displayed as thumbnails. The user has to click on the thumbnail to enlarge the image viewing it from the original website.
Google has upgraded this interface several times. First, in 2001, when it added over 200 images to the database, by 2005, this base increased to 1 billion and by 2010, it was 10 billion (Google, 2010). In 2009, Google introduced an option of finding similar images. In 2010, Google improved the interface by auto disabling details of the image until the cursor rolls over it.
Google Image has revolutionized the way internet users’ access images. With the increase in popularity of Google Image, Google has made it available for mobile phone and portable device users as well.
Launched in December 11, 2008, this is one of the most popular browsers on the internet today with 26.16% of the market share (Stat Counter, 2011). This browser applies WebKit layout engine mechanism incorporated with ‘V8 java script’ to enhance the application’s performance.
Chrome exhibits tremendous difference from other browsers, it does not run RSS feeds; it combines the address bar with the search bar and offers simplicity, speed and security to users. It portrays unique features like the graphical interface that has made it adorable by many internet users worldwide (Google, 2011).
Chrome incorporates two access control mechanisms (phishing and malware). The browser warns users when they click on potentially harmful links or sites (McCloud, 2011). Statistics indicate that internet users are regularly cheated into accepting malware downloads (Hughes, 2010).
Chrome allows individual tabs to fit in their own processes making them independent, this, is a complex model that prevents malware from self-installation (Chung, 2008).
Chrome does not sandbox plug-in as tabs since they are not standardized; they are run at a different security level to reduce their vulnerability. Chrome also provides a porn mode feature, ‘Incognito’ that stops it from archiving information from visited websites (Google Support, 2011).
Google Chrome uses the ‘V8 java script virtual machine engine’ which incorporates just-in-time compilation (JIT) and an automatic memory management that makes it twice as fast as Firefox 3.0. Google Chrome performed faster compared to several other websites that included Explorer, Safari, and Opera in a joint benchmark test (Google, V8 Benchmark Suite – version 6, 2011).
According to Mathew Moore (2008), reviewers not only appreciated Chrome’s appearance and features but also found it fast. However, they were skeptical regarding Chrome’s market dominance. In a rejoinder, Business Week reported in 2010 that,
“For the first time in years, energy and resources are being poured into browsers, the ubiquitous programs for accessing content on the Web. Credit for this trend—a boon to consumers—goes to two parties.
The first is Google, whose big plans for the Chrome browser have shaken Microsoft out of its competitive torpor and forced the software giant to pay fresh attention to its own browser, Internet Explorer. Microsoft all but ceased efforts to enhance IE after it triumphed in the last browser war, sending Netscape to its doom. Now it’s back in gear.” (Jaroslovsky, 2010).
By July 2011, Google Chrome was the most used browser in Chile, Uruguay, Philippines, Malaysia, Pakistan, Tunisia, Armenia, Moldova, Argentina and Jamaica (Stat Counter, 2011).
Google led a consortium of 84 information and communication technology companies collectively known as Open Handset Alliance to develop this operating system meant for mobile phones and computers. Google acquired Android incorporated in 2005. In 2007, it announced the formation of Open Handset Alliance as well as Android’s debut in the market (Open Handset Alliance, 2010).
Android consist of a component integrating Linux, Application Programming Interface (API), middleware and libraries authored in general purpose computer language(C), operating on a framework including java-compatible resources based on Apache Harmony (Bray, 2010).
Android has user-friendly features including, Handset layouts, a graphics library platform, which is a database storage facility, Connectivity, including Bluetooth, WI-FI, WiMAX and more. Additional features include, Messaging, both SMS and MMS, Multiple language Support, including most major languages of the world, Web browsers based on Chrome.
Android contains advanced features that are java supported making it exceptional compared to other systems. These Android application programs run on Dalvik. Android also supports various video formats including, WebM, MPEG-4 SP, AMR, H.263. Audio formats include, MP3, Wav, JPEG, PNG, GIF, BMP,MIDI and more (Android Developers, 2011). In addition, the Android also supports multi-touch, which is prominent in the Nexus One and Motorola Droid.
The primary market for Android is online. The online market is pre-installed on devices running on Android and enable users to download applications from other developers.
In 2010, the market contained 200,000 applications, by April 2011, the number of installed application from the market grew to 3 billion and by June 2010, the number was 6 billion installed applications (Tsotsis, 2011). Google has introduced several applications into the Android Market, including Google Voice, Sky Map, Finance, Map Editor, Places Directory, Google Goggles and more.
This is Google’s leading advertizing setup; it is also the main income earner. AdWords offers various online advertisement services including, cost-per-thousand, website advertising and pay-per-click. According to Google Investor Relations (2011), Google earned a total of $ 28 billion in revenues in 2010.
Google websites are the primary hosts of AdWords adverts, in addition, advertisers are allowed to display their adverts on other Google affiliate and partner networks that include, American Online search, Ask.com and Netscape.
Google has also developed a “Google Display Network” that displays advertisements on websites and not search engines. These websites apply a different advertising model such as AdSense and DoubleClick, which are used by those who wish to earn money-displaying advertisement on their websites.
According to Google Investor Relations (2010), revenue for the first quarter from Google owned sites was $ 2.04 billion and from collaborate sites $ 3.58 billion. In the second quarter of 2011, the revenues rose to $ 9.03 billion, with Google sites earning $ 6.23 billion and partner sites generating $ 2.48 billion. International revenues went up $ 4.87 billion 54% of total revenue of the second quarter of 2011.
With almost 70% of market share (Danny Goodwin, 2011); Google has managed to influence the worldwide internet market. It has successfully positioned products and services strategically in order to take advantage of the market trends. This way, it not only dominates the market but also govern internet activities worldwide
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