Sunday, 7 September 2008

Happy Birthday, Google Inc

Google is 10 years old today. Well, the Inc part is. Even the question, "when is Google's birthday" is met with this official answer:

The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake. (source)

Hence the "Inc" part.

To say they shook up the search engine market is an understatement. Unlike JFK's murder, I can remember where I was when I first heard about "Google". I was a fan of Alta Vista at the time, and used Yahoo! as a way to drill-down to find information. A comparison of results showed that Google returned more accurate results. Nowadays I have to bite back the phrase "Google for more information" and tell students to "use a search engine to find more information".

Later the Google toolbar kicked in. Placing a simple search facility into whatever browser I was using. They didn't clutter it up with adverts and the like. Their tenet was rumoured to be "build it first and then figure a way to make money from it". AdSense came in, placing adverts at the side of the search results. Easy to ignore if you weren't looking to buy things.

When the Usenet groups was forced to look for a new home, Google came to the rescue, and so discussion groups became Google Groups. Large email storage and shared documents, Google Earth, their labs facility which allowed you to see and beta test facilities. The movies site which then fed into the purchase of YouTube.

Google Maps and Earth allow people to look for local facilities in a non-text environment. With GPS being added to mobile phones, it wasn't a surprise to see a version of Google Maps available for my Nokia 6220 Classic. Although the phone has its own Nokia Maps, it isn't as good as Google Maps. Less fuss means a happier customer.

After the problems with S60 programs being written for specific mobile phones, defeating the purpose of having a standard operating system, I'd guess that Google Android wouldn't suffer from that problem. It might release more creative use of mobile phones.

Chrome - their new browser. No, not their "new" browser, but their first browser. As they are so integrated in to the Web, again I have to remind myself that this only their first browser.

If you want to see where things might be in the near future, have a look at Kevin Kelly's "Predicting the next 5,000 days of the web". You can bet Google will be near the centre of it all. Will "Google" become synonymous with the naffly-named "Cloud"? Only time will tell.