Google is a multinational public corporation based in Mountain View, California. They are primarily known for their search engine, which began as the research project of Larry Page and Sergey Brin at Stanford University in 1996. They constructed a new algorithm that would better analyse the existing relationship between sites than other existing search engines, which generally only ranked sites by the number of search terms appearing. This technology was called 'PageRank' and the original search engine which employed this technology was known as BackRub. The domain name google.com was adopted as a result of a typo in 1997. They more or less began to grow exponentially from this point, resulting in the powerful mega-corporation we know today with investments in cloud computing, advertising and a variety of internet-based products.
 Google Search
Google search, the company's search engine, has remained their most popular service and is the most popular search engine on the World Wide Web. While it is still based, in part, on PageRank, it has undoubtedly become considerably more advanced over the years. In addition to the original word-search feature, there are at least 22 special features, including stock quotes, weather updates and sports scores. Google has also added an instant search enhancement to the engine, which has received some criticism. Google China has also received some criticism from the opposition in China, with one party founder, Guo Quan, threatening to sue both Google and Yahoo! for acquiescing to blocking his name in accordance with government censorship policy.
Advertising accounts for over 99% of Google's revenue. Google has implemented various innovations in the online advertising market that helped make them one of the biggest brokers in the market. Using a technology called DoubleClick, Google can ascertain the interests of its users and target advertisements more directly at individual users, making the ads both more relevant to the user and the context in which they appear. Another function called Google Analytics, which is targeted at marketing companies rather than webmasters, is also used to generate detailed statistics about visitors to a website and once again create more relevant ads, through knowing more about visitors than any normal person is generally comfortable with. However, the service still has some difficulty with identifying 'click fraud'.
 Google Maps
Google Maps (formerly known as Google Local) is a web mapping service application and technology provided by Google, free (for non-commercial use), that powers many other map-based services. The satellite images from this program are, however, not in real time, and are generally several months or years old. This is another program where Google had to remove a number of features in order to comply with Chinese law. The Google Maps interface has been used to create a number of impressive programs, including Google Moon, Google Mars and Google Sky. It is useful for obtaining directions to pretty much anywhere you might need to go and, since it is not in real time, and since the images are normally fairly old, it is less creepy than a lot of the company's follow-up projects.
 Google Earth
On June 28, 2005, Google launched a virtual globe, map and geographical information program called Google Earth, though the program had already existed as Earthviewer 3D since 2001. It is an incredibly useful tool, particularly when used in conjunction with GPS. However, the program has been criticized by a number of governments as an 'invasion of privacy' and a 'threat to national security'. The main concern is that it could provide information about important military installations that could be used by terrorists. Nation-states which have criticized or at least partially censored Google Earth include India, South Korea, Australia and the United States. Iran, Morocco and Sudan have outright blocked it. As Google Maps is proprietary software that uses commercial satellite and aerial survey data, any image generated by it is a copyrighted image which cannot be used for commercial purposes without consent. This is in stark contrast to NASA's World Wind program which uses mostly public domain data.
 Google Street View
Google Street view, depending on your point of view, is either one of the coolest or one of the creepiest (or both?) things that Google ever came up with. The technology is featured in both Google Maps and Google Earth and provides panoramic views from various positions along many streets in the world. Many privacy advocates have complained about the intrusive nature of Google Street View, as it can be used to find people engaging in activities they would rather keep as private affairs.The Communications Minister of Australia, Stephen Conroy has referred to Google Street View as "the largest privacy breach in the history across western democracies." Google Street View has been used as evidence in at least one criminal case.
 Google Books
Google books is a service that searches the full text of books that Google has scanned and converted to text, using optical character recognition, which are stored in its digital database. A number of industry and writer's groups have described the practice of displaying snippets of copyrighted works as infringement. Google Books has caused an endless amount of copyright controversies since its inception. According to the Librarian of Congress, Marybeth Peters, the settlement reached between Google and authors and publishers will 'create mechanisms by which Google could continue to scan with impunity, well into the future, and to our great surprise, create yet additional commercial products without the prior consent of rights holders." At least one Cato Institute member has taken her side.
Android is a software platform for smartphones and tablet computers based on the Linux kernel with several of the components new to the OS (such as the Java interpreter used by several applications for the OS) using the Apache License, which is less strict than the GNU GPL used by the Linux kernel. It is maintained by the Open Handset Alliance led by Google and several pieces of software from Google are either included with devices based on it or available for download through the Android Market. Although the main code is open source, the trademarked Android branding is licensed more strictly than the code (much as with the trademark license of the Mozilla Firefox Web browser, which incidentally runs on Android). In addition, devices that license the name generally include some proprietary components such as the Android Market app store. It could best be described as Google's answer to the iPhone's iOS, and Verizon's Droid line of Android-based phones was intended to be a Verizon Wireless-serviced alternative to the previously AT&T-exclusive iPhone (though those now work with Verizon as well).
 Corporate Culture
Google is known for an informal corporate culture and is consistently ranked among the best companies to work for. Their official office philosophy is guided by principles like "you can make money without doing evil," "you can be serious without a suit," and "work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun." Their most widely known motto is "don't be evil." This is absolutely terrific for their public image and Google employs a Chief Culture Officer in order to maintain this philosophy. However, this has not prevented allegations of ageism and sexism levied against the corporation.
 Other Products
Google has products in several different markets, particularly the desktop, mobile and online markets. These include standalone desktop applications, desktop extensions, online and downloadable mobile products and several web based products for account management, communication, publication, mapping and several other fields. The company also runs various other services. Their expansion into the smartphone market with the Nexus One has led to a backlash from Steve Jobs, who apparently thinks companies should not take market share away from companies which are already established in a that market. Of course, Apple has never done any such thing (nor any other corporation based in a capitalist society for that matter)...
- ↑ http://graphics.stanford.edu/~dk/google_name_origin.html
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Search#Censorship
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google#Advertising
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Analytics
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google#Advertising
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Maps
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_earth#Influences
- ↑ http://worldwindcentral.com/wiki/Copyright_Questions_When_Using_Images_From_World_Wind (World Wind itself is licensed under the NASA Open Source Agreement, which is one of the few licenses recognised by the Open Source Initiative but not by the Free Software Foundation.)
- ↑ http://www.zdnet.com.au/conroy-google-wi-fi-spy-was-deliberate-339303408.htm
- ↑ http://latimesblogs.latimes.com/technology/2010/11/google-street-view-nypd-drug.html
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_books#Copyright_infringement.2C_fair_use_and_related_issues
- ↑ http://www.informationweek.com/news/internet/google/showArticle.jhtml?articleID=211601094
- ↑ http://arstechnica.com/tech-policy/news/2009/09/copyright-office-slams-google-book-deal-google-opens-up.ars
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google_Book_Search_Settlement_Agreement
- ↑ http://www.cato-at-liberty.org/the-libertarian-case-against-the-google-book-search-deal/
- ↑ Trademarking the official names of free/open source software is nothing new. Wikipedia has a list of more examples.
- ↑ http://www.google.com/corporate/tenthings.html
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google#Financing_and_initial_public_offering
- ↑ http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_Google_products
- ↑ http://crave.cnet.co.uk/laptops/jobs-googles-dont-be-evil-is-a-load-of-crap-adobe-is-lazy-49304856/