What’s Google up to? Just follow the money
Since 2003, Google has been gobbling up other tech companies. The companies it purchases reveal its expansion strategy:
- Google controls blogger.com, by acquisition of its creator Pyra Labs in 2003 for an undisclosed amount after four months of negotiations. At the time blogger.com had 1.1 million users.
- Google purchased Picasa in 2004. Picasa made technology for organizing and displaying photos online. The purchase price was not disclosed. Nice complement to blogger.com.
- Google acquired Android, the wireless software start-up in 2005 for an undisclosed amount (estimated at $50,000,000). Android at the time had 50 million users but now has 200 million. Its founder, Andy Rubin, continued to run the company, which is now one of the top platforms for high end smartphones, allowing it to compete with Apple iPhone. The operating system is free but includes ads on android phones that bring Google revenue in the billions.
- In 2006, Google paid 1.65 billion for YouTube, a mind boggling price then that now seems quaint. YouTube turned into the world’s largest video search engine. Powered by Google’s algorithms, it too is a huge source of ad revenue for Google, making it one of the best acquisitions they ever made.
- Feedburner, bought in 2007 for $100 million, was the first and best tech company to offer RSS feeds and ad packages within those RSS feeds, as well as subscriber count, feed management, audience attention etc. Another smart move by Google.
- Google launched its own browser, Google Chrome, in 2008.
- Waze, the Israeli map app, was purchased for $1.15 billion in 2013, despite the fact that Google already had Google Maps and Google Earth.
- In 2014, they dished out $500 million for a little known London startup called DeepMind, an artificial intelligence company they’re now using to control the air conditioning in their enormous data centers. DeepMind technology is saving them big time on electricity. Watch for its machine learning technology to be marketed to other companies soon.
- Later in 2014, Google acquired two more UK companies specializing in AI. Both are Oxford University spin-offs with small staffs of researchers, Dark Blue Labs and Vision Factory. Their researchers will join the team at DeepMind.
- Late last year, Google purchased an eye tracking company, Eyefluence, revealing its continued interest in augmented reality and virtual reality products.
Where does all this point?
Control of all information by Google. First the world of blogging, then cell phones, then browsers, video, RSS, maps, AI, virtual reality–Google dominates them all. They’re aiming for TV as well– check out Chromecast.
Google is quietly taking over
The rapid ascendancy of Google has gone unnoticed by many. Even the media’s not that concerned, though I found several 2013 stories on the topic, for example, one in Forbes Tech and another on Business Insider.
Recently, coverage of Google has quieted down. Most of us think nothing of it. I didn’t either, until lately I became annoyed with their manipulation of YouTube to please corporate advertisers. I also don’t like the lists of topics they suggest the minute you touch your keyboard to search.
What can you do?
- Switch to Bing as your browser (it’s just as good as Chrome
- Make Mozilla Firefox, the only major option left, your search engine.
- Other than that, I’m not sure.
Google is slowly becoming Big Brother just like in Orwell’s novel, 1984. It appears Google wants control over everything we read, do, watch and even think.