Getting a Grasp on Google

Google is EVERYWHERE on the web and because I’ve been thinking about it more and more lately, I think it’s finally time to put some of these thoughts in writing and get some input from the community.  I know I’m not the first or the last to have these thoughts, but here they are.  So please keep reading and leave your comments of feedback and suggestions.

Google = Advertising Company

google total revenue percentage Getting a Grasp on GoogleFirst and foremost Google is an advertising company.  Of course you knew this though… right?  Google does so many things for us and does it for free, but at the end of the day Google is an advertising company so much to the extend that 98% of their revenue comes from selling ads.

Now that’s a sobering thought isn’t it?  I’m just as bad as anyone else, maybe more so, because when Google comes out with a new service or product I always want to sign up and test it.  Gmail, Feedburner, YouTube, Google Docs, Google Analytics, etc. I don’t know how I lived before these services!?  So when the concern comes up with people that when I sign up for additional service Google will have more information about me and doesn’t that concern me, my answer has gotten to the point where I simply reply “well they already know everything about me anyway” and that is the end of it.

The reason that Google offers all these services for free is to learn more about users and ultimately provide more targeted ads to users.  It’s that simple. When I use Gmail, Google searches and indexes all my emails and has a better picture of the type of email I get and enjoy.  When I watch videos on YouTube, Google knows what sort of videos that I like to watch.  Google Analytics gives me data about traffic to my site and it gives them a more complete picture about my traffic.  Same for Google Webmaster Tools, as the more sites that they know that I control the better picture they have about who runs what on the web.  You see where I’m going with this?

As awesome and helpful as all these services are in the near future it starts to get a little scarier or blissful depending on your outlook on things.  When is too much information a bad thing?  Is there such a thing as too much information?

The Google TriForce

Three recent creations by Google when put together create a triforce so powerful and so completely consuming that it’s quite startling that more people haven’t taken a step back to see exactly what Google is amassing over the next few years.  This triforce that I refer to is Google’s mobile OS Android, Google’s offline capabilities in Gears, and Google’s web browser Chrome.  When you put the power of these three offerings together you have the ground work of the operating system of tomorrow.

google triforce Getting a Grasp on Google

Already in Asia and other parts of the world cell phones are the main way that people surf the web.  A little over a year ago I predictedwould be the year of the mobile phone and it absolutely was.  The iPhone because a status symbol and staple for the tech geek crowd to stay connected.  RIM launched their Bold and Storm to mixed reviews but it was obvious we had a whole new type of phone here.  Google created their own mobile operating system, Android, and the G1 was born.  Although it’s hard to declare a long term winner, with Steve Jobs days running Apple most likely numbered despite his expectations, Google being in and doing everything online it’s hard to not like Google’s chances at coming out on top.  Also their operating system being open source and providing much more flexibility and customizable options you almost want to be pulling for them.  Even Microsoft’s new Windows 7 is going more the route of being lightweight and more open.

So we combine a mobile experience with Chrome being absolutely lightning fast running Google applications (for the sake of full disclosure I’m still quite happy with Firefox) and the ability of web applications being continually more immersing and sufficient you have to wonder if the browser isn’t the OS of the future?  Remember when thin clients were all the rage and the idea of having data managed in a central location with people being able to access what they needed from “dumb” terminals?  Well with the web and the power of cloud computing it’s not that far away until we go round circle.

Finally let’s spend a few minutes on Google Gears.  Microsoft Office is great, but let’s be honest we don’t use 90% of the functionality in the software and everyone is tired of emailing copies of files around and not being able to keep up with which one is the “most recent” or up to date version.  Gears combined with Google Docs, Google Calendar, and Gmail is more than good enough and always available (online and off).  It’s a freaking blessing when we can do anything on any computer as long as it has a web browser, a low common denominator of any machine out there.  The portable option is already here today in limited functionality and will only become more of the norm than the exception.  Who needs to spend more and more money on more powerful machines?  Simply store your files in the clouds and use a large data center to run your computations.  It’s also better backedup!

So Why Should I Care?

So step back for a second and ask yourself a question.  How important is your privacy and what is considered private anymore? In this Brave New World are you ready to share the actives of who you are for free tools that hope to make your life easier and also help to offer you more targeted ads that promise to be much more relevant than the local car salesmen that we grew up watching in between our Saturday morning cartoons?  Personally I don’t think anything I do is important enough to be classified or secret, but that’s just me.  I do know that this gigantic advertising company that promises to “not be evil” has much larger ambitions than simply providing the best search results on the web.

In closing I’ll just leave you with a list of some of the free tools that Google offers and you decide if they are the kind of things that you have come to depend on daily.

Can you live without Google?

  • Google Search
  • GMail
  • Google Calendar
  • Google Docs
  • Google Maps
  • Google Checkout
  • Google Webmaster Tools
  • Google Analytics
  • Feedburner
  • YouTube
  • G1 Phone and Android
  • Google Connect
  • Blogger
  • AdSense
  • AdWords
  • Froogle
  • Google News
  • Picasa
  • Google Reader
  • Google Trends
  • Google Earth
  • Google Alerts
  • GOOG-411
  • Chrome
  • Google Talk
  • Orkut

*Google Camera Picture taken from Radar Online article

13 Responses to “Getting a Grasp on Google”

  1. Says:

    As a web designer my work day means I am engulfed by Google. I stopped using an email client in favor of gmail and it’s ease of use, and I can’t go a day without using adwords, analytics and adsense, but I never really thought of Google as an advertising company. And of course they are - just like McDonalds is really in the real estate business, not the restaurant business.

    It’s scary to think what data Google could be amassing as they are so pervasive! It would be very hard to get by in the internet field without Google, but I can get by quite easily without McDonalds!

    Thanks for the post,

    Fran Jeanes.

  2. Says:

    I agree with you. I’m not too worried about Google collecting more information about me because they already have virtually all they can acquire about my patterns before I even realized they were collecting data. How can you protect something that has already been taken from you.

  3. Says:

    Great article. Look forward to you posting more Android material.

  4. Says:

    Hi Kyle
    Thank you for the interesting post.
    Google has some great products - I use them extensively; I don’t worry about Google on the privacy side; I suspect that if the government (or anyone else) wanted to read my email there’s a better chance that Google will do a better job protecting my privacy than I could.
    In terms of tracking me online, when Google acquired DoubleClick they got a major boost in online intelligence. We’ve learnt to live with it!
    What concerns me more is Google trying to control aspects of the web beyond their remit. Nofollow and, less arguably, paid blog disclosure hampers people making small amounts of money from the web. IMHO Google should have altered their algorithms to ensure quality was maintained rather than handing down laws on acceptable online behaviour.
    For all that - will I be tempted to move from Windows when Google creates the desktop OS… yes, I will.

  5. Says:

    We rely on Google Earth and Maps to do our work - all things Geoweb Half of our team uses Gmail (although I protest gmail as they cull my/their email to generate ads - with incredible precision) and adwords/analytics as well. Needless to say, I prefer using an iPhone (for everything but a telephone - reception is horrible). The phones allows the apps I choose (Yelp, UrbanSpoon) to run ads based on location/type of food selected is a lot less intrusive than Gmail (the Mac email client also doesn’t take your data). The other issue as noted in Kyle’s blog is delay in receiving gmail emails…I don’t think this is related to the recipients user experience but rather Google’s effort to scrub the body of email text to generate the best ad possible.

    Whether 10% of all MS features are used, Google’s going to have an ongoing struggle with enterprise clients considering their current mode of operation (no numbers to call/tech support, limited channel partnerships and the use your data for ads, etc.). Look at, these guys know the enterprise market from a data security, user experience and application POV (see appexchange). Google may want to re-look at their model as/if they approach business customers…depending on gmail and all things Google will only take the cloud computing/google option to so many markets.

    Don’t get me wrong, we really like Google products…they’re free and cool.

    Good subject and I think one that will continue to generate dialogue for sometime…

  6. Says:

    You’re right about it, as I think most of the onliners are too dependable on Google. The world won’t be the same (at least for few months), if Google suddenly disappear from the internet arena…

    • Says:

      Sorry for the doubled comments, please delete away the below comments! :)

  7. Says:

    You’re right about it, as I think most of the onliners are too dependable on Google. The world won’t be the same (at least for few months), if Google suddenly disappear from the internet arena…
    P.S. - Sorry, forgot to tell you great post!

  8. Says:

    I’ll be continuing a Google angle at the end of the week, but thought anyone who hasn’t read this little piece of fiction would find it fit well with Kyle’s post.

    • Says:

      That article is where I got the picture from. :)

  9. Says:

    Thank your for this article. Personally I really don’t have a problem with my privacy flying out the window because to me it happens as soon as I go online. I mean isn’t Openness one of the reasons why we like the internet so much? If it wasn’t for that Openness we wouldn’t have the level of convenience and connectivity that we enjoy. And let’s say we do get more targeted ads - what’s the harm? To me that means more tailored options offered to me. I can consider them, go for them or ignore them if I choose (there’s ad and pop-up blockers, aren’t there). And as far as more serious abuse is concerned, well that can and does happen everywhere. In my experience as long as you’re honest, aware and ethical about what you do no “spying” can backfire on you.

    On another note: You forgot to mention Google Voice. I just read about that on another blog here: Google Voice: Google is One Step Closer to Taking Over the World
    Maybe you should add that to your list even though it’s just launching?

  10. Says:

    it is true that google is a ad company and everyone knows that. we get lot of help from them. so i don’t mind google taking our privacy. once u come to internet, ptivacy cannot be assured. thanks for the post.


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