Has there been a high-tech company whose birthday has been more celebrated than Google's? I doubt it, at least not each year.
Apple and Microsoft and maybe Amazon and others may celebrate 5- and 10-year milestones, but Google lives it up every year, paying homage to, well, itself with special logos.
Here is the latest, rather nondescript cake logo to celebrate its 12th birthday today, Sept. 27.
Note the credit as you mouse over the birthday cake. Google clearly recognizes Sept. 27 as its true birth date.
Apparently, the domain google.com was registered on Sept. 15, 1997, and the company was incorporated on Sept. 4, 1998, in Menlo Park, Calif.
Technicalities and filing logistics aside, I suppose what matters is when Google celebrates its founding by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.
More important is what has happened the last 12 years. I don't think it's overstating it to say Google has transformed the Internet, simplifying the use of Web applications for even the most tech-light folks all over the world.
More than 1 billion people search Google, a huge swath of the world's population of 7 billion or so.
For better or worse, Google has also transformed advertising. See, we use all of these great, free Web applications, but they aren't as free as Google implies. Google pairs ads with almost every Web service, or tries to, or at least thinks about it.
Search keyword ads, which take up a little of our time each time we conduct a Google search -- I especially find them distracting in Gmail -- are the precursors to more targeted ads over time.
It might not be this year, but perhaps sometime in the next five to 10 years, you might expect Google to offer ads targeted more specifically to individuals. And then it's only a matter of time before you see ads tailored for you on billboards as you walk by.
Think Minority Report ads:
Google Watch celebrates Google's past 12 years, but has a wary eye on the future as the company seeks to expand its $24 billion a year ad business.