To Google or not to Google
To Google or not to Google? That is the question. Did you know that Google shares are currently trading on the NASDAQ at $180.77 ($US) per share? Now, I’m not much of an expert on the stock exchange, but I did a little checking around and it turns out that Yahoo is trading at $31.62, Ask Jeeves at $28.67 and Microsoft Corp at $24.20. Google may have been the new kid on the block of search engines, but it is definitely the big cheese now.
The other day I was having lunch with some colleagues and we were chatting about a new product that had just been launched here in New Zealand. The conversation went something like this:
‚Have you guys heard about the new ‚Push to Talk‛ Telecom offering?‛
‚Yeah, I googled it yesterday and did a comparison against what Telstra is offering.‛
Google is a word that is understood by everyone in my office. I went online to, curious to see what would happen when I looked up the word ‚google‛ and this is what I got: (verb) ‚to search for information on the Internet, esp. using the Google search engine.‛
We live without question in the Information Age and companies like Google are making money out of that. A lot of money.
For me the really interesting question here is why is Google so popular? There are plenty of comparisons that have been well documented. I waded through some rather technical documents that drew up endless lists of pros and cons. The conclusion that I came to is this: I think it’s a lot simpler than all that. Google is cool – and cool is hard to beat. So what makes Google so cool? It’s not like the logo is particularly flash. (The distinctly ‚primary‛ colours of blue, red, yellow and green of the logo seem almost child-like). Even the word ‚Google‛ â€? it’s so ‌ well, geeky really. It’s actually derived from the mathematical term ‚googol‛ which means 1 followed by 100 zero’s. And then there are the guys behind this massive force ‌ the boys from Stanford, Larry Page & Sergey Brin, who started this whirlwind from humble beginnings in their dorm room. Not exactly your average rock stars and yet they were on the cover of Fortune magazine just the other day. (20 December 2004). Personally, what I find cool about Google is that it’s subtle. You’re not inundated with flashing icons and pop-up adverts. It’s clean and simple. That is the beauty of it really; you don’t feel like someone is trying to sell you something. (They are of course, but more on that later.)
The other thing that makes Google cool is the corporate attitude. Number 9 on the Google Philosophy Ten Things: You can be serious without a suit. Google head office (known as ‚Googleplex headquarters‛) serves 3 meals a day to its staff � and just in case that wasn’t enough, there are snack rooms that are filled with everything from cereal to gummi bears. Googleplex also has videogames, foosball, a baby grand (because every office should have one), a gym complete with massage facilities and there is the twice weekly game of roller hockey in the parking lot. It sounds more like a vacation than an office. But clearly Google like to do things differently. (And with the share price as high as it is � they’re obviously doing something right.) In keeping with the familiar environment of university (most Google hires are fresh out of college apparently) meetings start 7 minutes past the hour. Maybe that sounds a bit ‚kooky‛ but if you’ve been studying for the last 5 years and your lectures started 5 or 10 minutes past the hour (but never on the hour) then I guess it’s perfectly normal. It may sound a bit radical, but this is a company that thrives on innovation. (Google released 12 online search improvements in 2004.) And innovation means creativity, so their office is geared towards getting people talking.
What is Google?
So what is Google really then? A search engine? Partly, but mostly they are a really powerful online advertising medium. Whenever you do a search, Google brings up a column of ‚Sponsored Links‛ on the left hand side. By noting your search query they can offer a selection of the most complementary products or services. A dream come true for the marketing folk. Selective and targeted advertising. This of course is how Google are generating revenue for themselves. They’ve also been taking tips on networking‌and I don’t mean in the technical sense. Google partner with everyone and anyone. Place one of Google’s ‚sponsored links‛ on your website and you can get in on a slice of the action.
But Google aren’t content to rest on their laurels. They are determined to get even more up close and personal. Introducing Google Desktop Search. Now you can find all those missing documents and emails that have somehow vanished into the black hole that is your PC. But be warned‌nothing is free. While there is no direct cost involved with this snazzy tool by downloading the software, you are giving your consent to provide Google with certain information. According to the ‚Terms & Conditions‛ (which let’s face it, hardly anybody actually reads) you give Google consent to collect ‚non-personal‛ information.
And in case that wasn’t personal enough for you there is Gmail, Google’s free email service offering. What a perfect avenue for keeping in touch with their user base. Google offers their users 1GB of free storage and free email. And the price? It seems quiet high to me. To summarise the Gmail Privacy Policy, Google has the right to scan your email contents in order to deliver targeted advertising to your inbox. While Google are upfront and honest about the fact that they collect and use personal information they are clear in outlining the fact that they don’t sell, rent or share any user data. What’s even clearer is that Google are keen to get to know their customer base. In fact, they make it their business.
Google for the future
According to a publication from Dow Jones & Company Inc (09-02-05), Wall Street analysts met with Google recently to discuss a wide range of topics, but the real draw card was the financial outlook. So imagine their surprise when Google announced that they didn’t want to forecast their financial future and management were banned from projecting profits. Instead they wanted to talk strategy. And that strategy is to keep on expanding their product line. Google have targeted 10% of their work force to focus on ‚experimental services‛.
And in order to sustain the momentum they’re going to have to be pretty creative indeed. They’re not short of brains � that’s for sure. So I’m betting that there are a few tricks up their sleeves yet. Like the new ‚Google mini‛. The ‚corporate search tool‛ for small to medium enterprise. Now how cool does that sound?

TomorrowToday Global