Google began as a research project by Larry Page and Sergy Brin in 1996 when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in California. At that time search engines ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page. Larry and Sergy theorized about a better system which analyzed the relationship between websites. Almost like a voting system, websites relevance was determined by the number of pages and the importance of those pages that link to the original website. They called this new techonology PageRank. One way to describe this is like being popular at school, the more friends you have the more popular you are. And say you are friends with the most popular kid at school, this would give you more street credibility and make you more important.
The search engine was initially called BackRub until they changed the name to Google which originated from a misspelling of the word “googol” which is a seriously large number. This name was picked to signify that the search engine wants to provide large quantities of information for people. In the early day Google ran under the Stanford University website, with the domains google.stanford.edu and z.stanford.edu until they registered the domain google.com in the September of 1997. Four years later the number of monthly unique visits to Google was over 1 billion.
The Google search engine is the companies’ most popular service and the most dominant search engine. Over the years Google has released a number of online productivity tools including Gmail, Google Docs and Google Apps. Other enterprising solutions include Google Earth and Google Maps, Google New and Google Translate. The list goes on.
The company has not been without controversy over the years. There have been lots of criticisms of Google over the possibility of misuse and manipulation of search results. Recently Google has been forced by regulators in the US to agree to legally binding changes to the way it presents some search results and runs its search advertising following nearly two years of investigation. Google were accused of being biased by promoting and ranking its own services, including videos, shopping and maps, higher than equally or better-qualified rivals. This was looked into over two years by Federal Trade Commission. The FTC director stated recently “We exhaustively investigated whether Google uses search bias” to push its own products higher and rivals’ down the search results. But after nearly two years, he said, “the commission has voted to close this investigation. Although some evidence suggested it was trying to remove competition, the primary reason was to improve the user experience.”
Google has a number of Subsidiaries including subAdMob, DoubleClick, Motorola Mobility, On2 Technologies, Picnik, Zagat and YouTube. They also invest in cloud computing, internet search and advertising technologies. They generate most of their profit from advertising from their AdWords program.
Google looks set to continue its dominance of the search industry and online services for some time to come. No doubt there will be more criticism and investigations to come. It will be interesting to see who is the market leader in 10 or 20 years time.