Is Google getting too big for its britches? Their latest big project, Google + is targeting social networking giant Facebook. Wow! Did they bite off too much? Will this be their comeuppance? Guess we’ll have to wait and see on that one. Let’s take a quick look at some history before we bet against them.
Back in 1996, two grad students at Stanford University started collaborating on a search engine called BackRub which operated on the Stanford servers for more than a year before it started to eat up too much bandwidth. The next year they changed the name to Google (googol is a math term with 100 zeros) reflecting their goal to organize an infinite amount of info on the Web. You know how the search engine story turned out…PC Magazine recognized Google as one of the top Web sites of 1998 and they were off to the races. The term “Googler” came into use in 1999, meaning someone who used Google. Investment money followed recognition and the new company was off to a fast start.
I can’t begin to list all the milestone events in the Google story in one column, but in 2002 Google Labs was opened for a place to try out new technologies that were flowing out of the budding R& D arm of Google. Projects live and die here and the good ones you eventually hear about.
The IPO of almost 20 million shares of Google common stock hit Wall Street at $85 per share in August of 2004. Today’s market capitalization is about 168 Billion $; yeah that’s with a B.
Some of Google’s growth has come through acquisitions like YouTube and Picasa, but a lot of innovations and winners have come through the Google labs. Most of the tech companies/products that Google has acquired have been greatly improved and expanded since they were brought on board.
Gmail is a typical Google product that has grown enormously since its inception and continues to be improved on a regular basis. The contacts part of Gmail is one of the best packages available in a free service.
One of the most helpful features of the Google stable of technologies is their integration together so that the combination is more useful than the individual products. by themselves.
Google is also making good progress in adapting some products to smart phones and pushing them out to phone makers and tablet makers as apps. Google app and Google calendar app are good examples. I like the way Google plays with other technology companies. For example, I had no trouble coordinating my Google Calendar to synch with ical on my MacBook, or with the apps on my iPhone or iPad.
It will be interesting to see how Google does in its quest to unseat Facebook; let’s watch.