eWEEK at 30: Google Rises From Search Startup to Web Service Behemoth
The company's philosophy, defined by the founders early in Google's existence, is based on what Google calls "Ten things we know to be true." Highlighting that list is to "focus on the user and all else will follow," "it's best to do one thing really, really well," "fast is better than slow," and "you can be serious without a suit." But another crucial factor in Google's phenomenal growth so far is that it hasn't shied away from moving into technology sectors dominated by entrenched competitors. Google introduced its Chrome Web browser at a time when Microsoft's Internet Explorer was still the browser market leader. Its Android mobile operating system emerged after the Apple iPhone, with the iOS operating system established itself as a big hit. As of the 2013 third quarter, Android accounted for 81 percent of all smartphone shipments, according to research firm IDC. So what makes Google so successful when other early Internet companies, such as AltaVista, got a head start by introducing popular search engines only to wither from the market after they were overtaken by Google?Google emerged in the search engine market at a seminal time when new search engines were popping up like flowers in springtime. "We were changing search engines seemingly every nine months," Jonathan Yarmis, principal analyst with Yarmis Group, told eWEEK. "Yahoo itself, Excite, Lycos, AltaVista, AskJeeves, they all had their moments in the sun as the hot search engine. Along came Google, and we stopped switching." Users had a chance to try all of these search engines and after a while they started gravitating toward Google as a default search engine, Yarmis explained. Google ultimately hung around because it was "good enough" for most users, Yarmis said. "More important than being good enough, Google was brilliant enough and/or lucky enough to figure out the monetization angle. To this day, their real business all stems from that original idea of selling [ad] space alongside their organic listings. There are few things more valuable on the Internet than selling the space next to the organic listings," Yarmis said. Once Google caught on, users became resistant to trying the next new thing or even consistently using the other search engines they were once eager to try out, he noticed. But there is much more to Google's success than just a good search engine. "They have one of the most sophisticated, complicated and ultimately profitable business models that I've ever seen," Scott Strawn, an IT analyst covering Google and Amazon, told eWEEK. "Google is unique with its search capabilities and what they've built on top of that with digital advertising. It's a uniquely possible business model, with a lot of it tying into the cloud and a lot built on a platform that has massive in-house computing capabilities to analyze the data that is the nature of this business."
Google declined an eWEEK request for an interview with an executive to discuss the company's progress. But industry analysts shared their views on the reasons for the company's rapid growth and success.