Google at 12: 10 IT Lessons the Search Engine Giant Has Taught Us

By Don Reisinger  |  Posted 2010-09-11

Google at 12: 10 IT Lessons the Search Engine Giant Has Taught Us

Google is now 12-years-old. And over the past dozen years, the search engine company has grown from a small startup with big hopes to the company that has single-handedly changed every facet of the technology industry. Whether it's online or in the software space, Google has found a way to carve out a significant portion of the market.

But that doesn't mean that everything Google has done or accomplished over the past 12 years has been good for users. In fact, a valid argument can be made that Google's desire to not be "evil" has backfired over the past few years. And in some ways, the company has lost its way.

Simply put, Google's story thus far is one of both good and bad.

Here is a look at what the IT market has learned from the Google over the past 12 years.

1. Search really can work

When Google first got into the search business, the space was different than it is right now. It was dominated by a few firms that understood what needed to be done when searching the Web, but they didn't have a good idea of how to implement it. Google changed all that. And Google showed that by relying upon the Web community and coming up with unique ideas, there is a way to make it big in search.

2. Web-based advertising is the future

When Google decided to use advertising to build its business, the company showed the rest of the market that Web-based advertising is both the present and the future. Nowadays, companies are investing in online ads at a more frequent pace than ever before. And they have Google to thank for it.

3. Companies can do more than one thing

For a while, Web-based companies seemed to believe that if they did one thing right, they would be just fine. eBay did auctions and Amazon did online retail, but Google has shown that online firms can do all kinds of things and be successful. The company has gone from search to advertising to cloud services to mobile operating systems. And now it's planning on expanding into fiber networks. If nothing else, Google has shown that a Web company doesn't need to be tied to the Internet.

4. Being "good" is easier when young

Since the beginning, Google has said it doesn't want to "be evil." But as it has grown and become a major organization, it has had more difficulty proving to consumers that it is always the "good" company. Its most recent issues with privacy advocates on Google Buzz and StreetView illustrate that point. Google has shown that the larger a company gets, the harder to keep users happy.

5. Size matters

Google is a massive company. And due to that size, the company has been able to keep other potential competitors at bay. In fact, whenever a company gets a little bit too big or the firm believes it can help its own services, Google simply acquires it. The strategy has worked extremely well in the past. And it will likely continue to work going forward. But because of that, small firms hoping to repeat Google's success could have some trouble.

Its More Apple-like than Microsoft-like


6. A single company can strike a chord

Years ago, the Internet was a much different place. There were several companies doing something unique, but none of them were able to become the "household" name that Google has. Search has become synonymous with Google. And in the process, the company has shown that with the right service and the right experience, a Web-based firm can strike a chord with consumers. Perhaps Facebook is the only other major site that has been able to achieve similar success.

7. Good ideas get rewarded on the Web

When Sergey Brin and Larry Page came up with their idea for Google, it was clear that it was a good idea from the beginning. And their success has shown that good ideas are rewarded by Web users, while those that don't work so well will not be rewarded. That's a rule that Web entrepreneurs should consider as they plan their next service.

8. Microsoft was teetering

It was impossible to see 12 years ago, but Google has made it clear over the years that Microsoft was in a precarious position. The firm had been focusing too much of its time and effort on software to the detriment of its online business. And in the process, it allowed Google to grow and become the firm it is today. Going forward, Microsoft has challenges facing it. And it's likely that the company will be forced to take on Google every step of the way.

9. It's more Apple-like than Microsoft-like

As Google grew into the behemoth that it is today, some have said that the search giant is like Microsoft. They say that it uses its size to impose its will on the industry, while leaving smaller firms to try and compete. But over the past few years, Google has shown that it's far more Apple-like than Microsoft-like. Yes, it imposes its will, but Apple does too. And when it comes to product design, Google is far more elegant, like Apple, than Microsoft. Google could be a hybrid of both Microsoft and Apple, but it's far more Apple-like than Microsoft-like.

10. It plays for domination

Make no mistake that Google wants one thing in every market that it competes in: dominance. The search giant wanted to lead the search space by a wide margin. It wanted to become a key cloud player. And now, it's doing what it can to take over the mobile space. Google is about dominance and little else.

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