With $3.3bn of profits in the first quarter of the year and a valuation of over $250 billion back in February, it’s clear that Google has solidified itself as a force to be reckoned with in the search engine world. Long gone are the days when the then-small company was the underdog in a bitter war against AOL-backed Yahoo.
But with profits booming and a whole host of untapped industries available, will Google stay true to its ‘Don’t Be Evil’ motto? Or is it heading towards total world domination?
In either case, Google has a whole heap of ammunition to use once the battle for our attention begins. Here are six key ways in which they’re ready to take over the world.
1 – Android
Google’s open source (ish) operating system, which they purchased in August 2005, has reached near-ubiquity, with 700,000 new Android phones activated every day – that means that Androids are born more often than babies. Despite fierce competition from Apple’s iOS, Android is the operating system of choice for over 65% of the world’s smartphone owners.
2 – Apps
Google’s app store, Google Play, allows you to download and install applications to your Android device. It pulls in over half of all app downloads and is expected to become the first store to reach the 1 million apps mark by June. In fact, there’s a growing trend of car manufacturers building Android straight into their vehicles – soon, you’ll be downloading apps from Google and installing them from the passenger seat.
3 – Self-Driving Cars
Speaking of cars, they drive themselves now. Google’s self-driving car is already making waves – in June 2011, the state of Nevada passed a law permitting their usage, with Florida and California later following suit. Google’s self-driving cars have completed over 300,000 autonomous-driving miles without accident, unless you count the time it was rear-ended by someone else at a stoplight. It’s easy to imagine a time when we’re all being chauffeured around by Google’s technology.
4 – Glass
If you haven’t heard of Google’s Glass project, you’ve been hiding under a rock. Glass is the name of Google’s wearable computer, which looks like a traditional pair of glasses with a small display over one of the lenses. Glass aims to push augmented reality and wearable computing into the domain of affordable tech and eventual ubiquity, and if anyone can change the mind-set of the world, it’s Google.
5 – Now
Google Now is a new service that aims to change the way we search by passively delivering information to the user that they’re likely to want, from nearby events to traffic levels, through news, meeting reminders and movies. Google will even tell you what time you need to leave to get to the office by 9 AM, analyzing your usual route and the amount of traffic that’s lining the streets. Now also aims to parse ‘natural language’ queries – instead of typing in ‘height David Beckham footballer’ and hoping that something comes up, you can ask ‘how tall is David Beckham?’ This marks a massive change in the way that we search for information, and it’s no surprise that Google is the company that’s paving the way.6 – Social and Search
Social media sites and search engines are growing closer and closer together, and Google has the advantage of owning one of each. Google already considers social signals such as the number of ‘likes’ and tweets that a web page has received, and features from Google+ are often included in the results pages. Sharp-eyed searchers will have noticed authors’ profile pictures and their friends’ +1s in the results pages, and that’s just the beginning. Google has the tools, the knowhow and the need to make search more social, and this is where the key growth will come in its primary business as a search engine. Google aims for no more and no less than a truly searchable world, where all information is easily accessible and can be cross-referenced with your friends’ interests and interactions.
It’s clear that Google has both the means and the opportunity to rule us all, but how far along the path towards cat-stroking megalomania will the company go? In their defense, the geniuses at Mountain View are largely ego-free, and it’s hard to find malice in Google’s keen desire to create a better world.
Perhaps, after all, it’s less about the technology and more about the way we use it. Sure, Google will soon have more information at its disposal than most major governments, but will they use it to our detriment? It seems unlikely, though they’ll probably analyses it in bulk to make our user experiences better. After all, the more time we spend using its products, the closer Google will be to ruling us all.
How else do you think Google is taking over the world? Let us know with a comment!