Exactly 20 years ago, on September 15, 1997, Larry Page and Sergey Brin registered the google.com domain for the Google search engine they created. Thus began the history of one of the most important IT companies in the history of mankind. TASS tells how Google has become an integral part of our lives and how it has changed.
Google changed our attitude to search engines
Today, the Google start window is the most visited website on the Internet. But this was not always the case – at the turn of the 1990s and 2000s, the search engines Yahoo, Microsoft, AltaVista and Excite dominated. Why did not they “shoot”?
Search engines at the time were a sad sight: these were sites with a huge amount of visual garbage, which distracted the user directly from the search process. The idea was to get the user to “hang” on the site longer, thereby increasing its traffic. Page and Bryn decided to go the other way – to focus exclusively on finding information. To do this, the Google start page (at first, it was wearing the rather stupid name BackRub, the English “back massage”) was made as concise as possible, leaving one search string and logo on a white background. Now the importance of this simple action is difficult to realize, but at that time the effect was immense: thousands of Internet users began to migrate to Google simply because it was the most user-friendly.
Another competitive advantage of Google is its unique output algorithm. In the late 1990s, if you hammered a word in Yahoo or MSN, the search engines would display the top pages on which the word most often occurs. Google’s algorithm, called PageRank, calculated the importance of the site page for the search engine, depending on the number and quality of links to this page, both external and internal. Due to this, the quality of the search has significantly improved. The PageRank algorithm was significantly superior to all the search engines that existed then, and Bryn and Page, realizing his potential, founded Google Inc. in September 1998. – to develop its development as a commercial product.
Of course, over time, the search engine has grown by its Gmail, Google Maps and dozens of integrated products. This is another lesson that Google has successfully mastered – a 21st-century search engine should be more than just a search engine.
Google has changed the IT market
The launch of Google fell on not the easiest time for the high-tech market in the US. In 2001 there was a so-called dot-com crash – an economic “bubble” burst due to a drop in overvalued shares of Internet companies. Because of this, investors lost confidence in the securities of high-tech firms related to the provision of services via the Internet. The collapse of the NASDAQ stock exchange in 2000-2002 caused a drop in the market value of companies by $ 5 trillion, and there is an opinion that only 48% of dot-com companies survived by 2004.
Google not only survived but also returned investors confidence in the IT market. On August 18, 2004, during an initial public offering (IPO) on the NASDAQ exchange, Google raised $ 1.67 billion, an amount that was unprecedented at that time. The market capitalization of the startup was more than $ 23 billion. The vast majority of 271 million shares remained under the control of Google, and many employees of the company instantly became millionaires – owners of securities. Shares in the initial offering of securities (IPO) traded at $ 85 per share. Now one share is worth almost $ 950.
The success of Google showed investors that startups in the IT market can bring a lot of money, and motivated to invest in such firms. That’s why Facebook’s capitalization, for example, is now $ 500 billion. And even such unrequired projects like Twitter or Snapchat cost tens of billions of dollars. True, before the “king” of the IT market they are still far away – the capitalization of the holding Alphabet Inc, which includes Google and its subsidiaries, is estimated at $ 649.49 billion.
Google has influenced the development of innovation
Larry Page and Sergey Brin are now accepted to put on a par with such stars of the IT industry as Steve Jobs and Elon Musk. All of them create (or created) breakthrough technologies that outstrip modern analogs for several years ahead. Bryn heads the Google X, a subsidiary established in 2010, which develops autopilot cars, glasses of augmented reality Glass and other innovative products. In Google, they are called moonshots (English “flights to the moon”). In 2016, Google X projects such as Nest (clever thermostat), Fiber (high-speed Internet) and Verily (the company engaged in “smart” medicine) brought Alphabet $ 808 million. However, this is still not enough to cover the costs incurred by the company because of their ambitious projects.
According to CNN, last year’s loss of the company from the projects moonshots was $ 3.6 billion. Because of this, the company began to abandon some of the unfortunate developments: Project Ara (a modular telephone), Project Loon (the Internet with balloons) was abandoned, and development of its own unmanned vehicle. Instead, Google intends to improve the artificial intelligence system, which will be installed in self-managed cars of existing brands.
However, even those projects that have not justified themselves can get a second life in the near future. For example, Glass’s augmented reality glasses – Bryn’s favorite brainchild – could not win a broad consumer, but are now being actively introduced into production, medicine, and engineering. According to market research company Forrester Research, in 2025, about 14.4 million workers in manufacturing in the US will wear smart points.
Google climbed into our phones and computers, and now knows about us all
About 82% of people on the Internet use Google as a search engine, 85% – the share of Android in the mobile OS market. Whichever device you use, you will still be unable to avoid Google’s products, and it has both pluses and minuses. On the one hand, logging in once-through Gmail, you get access to all products, and it’s convenient. On the other hand, Google, like social networks such as Facebook, is gathering too much information about us, making our lives vulnerable.
Google receives money from advertisers and provides them with information literally about every click you make. Simply put, if you search the word “refrigerator” in the search, then you will be chasing the advertising of refrigerators for a long time. Google’s tracking programs are installed on more than 10 million sites, so you do not even need to google anything to get under the hood. But this is half the trouble. Every time you write a letter in Gmail, watch a video on YouTube or look for something in Google Maps, all your activity is monitored on Google. The extent of such “shadowing” remains unknown.
Google changed our language and thinking
When we want to find something on the Internet, we think “it’s necessary to go for a walk,” and not “pre-university” or “wingnut.” In this regard, Google has become an integral part of our vocabulary. The company even fears that the verb “Google” may cease to be associated with Google itself, as it happened with the words “Xerox”, “Polaroid” or “Pampers”.
Google’s influence on our thinking is even deeper than it seems. According to the research “Your Brain on Google” by Professor of California University in Los Angeles Gary Small, the use of a search engine activates the brain areas responsible for decision-making, complex thinking, and vision. Those participants in the experiment who used the search engine more often demonstrated twice the brain activity than those who rarely go online.
Another study conducted by Yale University has proved that the frequent use of Google makes people feel that they are smarter than they really are. Scientists at Columbia University found out that we are increasingly using Google to “outsource” our own memory – if something can be easily found on the Internet, our brains prefer not to remember it. Perhaps, in part, that’s why we can no longer imagine our life without Google.