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Google's Impact on the Internet 351

Posted by CmdrTaco
from the slightly-less-than-slashdot's-of-course dept.
Kierkegaard writes "The Globe & Mail and Fortune Magazine both wrote a piece on Google, arguably one of the most important companies in the world, and its influence and impact on the Internet. In particular, they mention the effects of Google's recent new services, like Blogger and Maps, as well as their take on how Google threatens the Microsoft Corporation. "If Sergey and Larry stick to their corporate mantra -- Don't be evil -- and are able to stem degeneration into the typically corrupt corporate ethos, who knows, they may just succeed in assuming the fair and honourable dominion over the world's information they so naively set out to achieve eight years ago in their garage.""
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Google's Impact on the Internet

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  • Google important? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Threni (635302) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:53AM (#12291370)
    If they weren't around I'd just be using Yahoo or whatever, and having less unused space in my various free web-based email accounts.
    • Perhaps... (Score:5, Insightful)

      by gandell (827178) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:58AM (#12291402)
      Consider this. Yahoo, MSN, and many others have begun scrambling to provide the same services that Google has right now. Toolbars, Desktop Search apps, and even increased space in your email accounts. Like it or not, Google has changed the face of the search industry. Will they keep their dominance? It depends on how the technology evolves. I've not seen any of the other internet based companies have the same impact. I'd say that makes Google pretty important.
      • Re:Perhaps... (Score:3, Insightful)

        by Threni (635302)
        > Like it or not, Google has changed the face of the search industry

        I'd not call that `changing the face of the search industry`. But I wasn't denying they've affected how some other companies, simply that it's not one of the most important companies in the world, which was the original, laughable claim to which I was responding.

        • It's possible you don't remember how painfully time-consuming were searches using AltaVista and Lycos.
          • Some people actually weren't around to use the web before Google. I remember being happy to find som emeta search engines that actually did a good job, so I could stop having to search Altavista first, then Lycos, then HotBot/Excite/Yahoo Directory. Now, if it's not in Google, it's probably not on the web...
        • Re:Perhaps... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by hairykrishna (740240)
          Many people use the internet as their primary source of information. Google is the starting point for the (vast) majority of these peoples research.

          If thiis doesn't make it one of the worlds most important companies, what does?

        • Re:Perhaps... (Score:3, Insightful)

          by bigman2003 (671309)
          Google is very important and I believe it has changed the face of the search industry, and the way that the web is used.

          5 years ago, I spent time 'surfing the web' by using things like 'Yahoo Cool Sites' and their 'Surfers Picks.' I'd get to an interesting site and pretty much read the entire thing. Sites like 'Mississippi Mobile Homes' (pre-commercialization) and 'Avocado Memories' still stick in my head many years after I first saw them.

          Now, I don't look at entire sites, I only look at individual page
      • Re:Perhaps... (Score:2, Interesting)

        by packeteer (566398)
        I dont consider a company important just because it forces its competitors to compete. Thats how the system is suposed to work. Think about this; if Google suddenly ceased to exist would our lives be much different? I know that really like how google helps me find stuff really quick but its not like before google was around i sat around all day thinking about how lame search engines were. Basically what im trying to say is that Google is "one of the more important technology companies that are fairly ne
        • by TGK (262438)
          And people in the 16th century didn't sit around all day thinking about how lame horses were.

          I'm not saying Google is the Automobile to Yahoo's horse, but your argument is flawed.

        • I dont consider a company important just because it forces its competitors to compete. Thats how the system is suposed to work.

          class Feedback_loop_company {};
          Feedback_loop_company Google = new Feedback_loop_company();

          Yeah, if we didn't have this instance, we'd have to make a new one. The fact that it's here, and taking the tortise approach to world domination, as opposed to the hare, makes Google at least interesting, if not important.
          You know that the thought of their own OS distribution has to have

    • Well, Google is extremely important with regards to the internet, regardless of whether there would be alternatives if they didn't exist.

      But in general (as the posting claims)? I think that's overestimating the importance of the internet as a whole, at least in the current situation.
    • by thirteenVA (759860) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:16AM (#12291541)
      That's a rather cynical view. How could you possibly try to downplay the impact of Google by attempting to paint them as yet another search engine and email provider.

      Without Google I'd have lost hours searching through wads of irrelevant and/or paid listings in yahoo or MSN.

      Without Google I'd have been lost when trying to convert teaspoons to tablespoons or quarts to liters.

      Without Google, we'd be lost in a sea of paid advertisements lurking as 'relevant articles'.

      Only recently have I found it more difficult to pull good results from google, but even so, their usefulness is unparalleled. Google maps is easily the best web-based mapping application. Gmail leaves other mail providers in the dust (and gives free POP access, which is rare) Google local is incredibly useful for finding nearby shops and restaurants.

      I can no longer imagine a world without Google, and can only laugh at your attempt to downplay their importance in todays society.
      • I would guess that there have been other search engines that have had something like the same ideals, but only because they were unable to sell it at the time. My memory defeats me on WHICH search engines they were, but someone around here probably coded the things, so they might take offense to this type of comment.

        Google became popular pretty quick and gets a lot of PR, but search HAS been around forever and the question in my mind is whether or not there have been other engines that were pushed out o
    • Re:Google important? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by thirteenVA (759860) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:22AM (#12291584)
      It's amazing to think that 8 years ago some of the greatest minds in the world were saying "How will we organize and access the far reaches of the web". Two college students took it upon themselves to figure it out and deploy that solution to the world.

      Sergey and Brin take their job very serious. Organizing and delivering a whole world's information/thoughts/opinions is a HUGE responsibility, yet they've carried it and with dignity. I see little if any abuses of the power they hold. How many other companies could do what google does and resist the temptation to abuse their audience or subject them to slanted views/opinions or worse.

      Google's only agenda is to get you where you want to be.
      • by jeroenb (125404) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:33AM (#12291670) Homepage
        Sergey and Brin take their job very serious. Organizing and delivering a whole world's information/thoughts/opinions is a HUGE responsibility, yet they've carried it and with dignity.

        These two have done great things yes, but don't downplay the work of two other great minds, Larry and Page.

      • Are you serious? (Score:3, Insightful)

        by cbreaker (561297)
        "Two college students took it upon themselves to figure it out and deploy that solution to the world."

        That part is true. However, like another poster said (the first post actually) if they didn't come around we'd all just be using Yahoo, or Lycos, or one of the other companies that would probably be bigger if not for Google.

        "Sergey and Brin take their job very serious."

        How do you know? You know them personally? Or is this just what you read on a news clipping?

        "Organizing and delivering a whole world
      • by afabbro (33948)
        It's amazing to think that 8 years ago some of the greatest minds in the world were saying "How will we organize and access the far reaches of the web". Two college students took it upon themselves to figure it out and deploy that solution to the world...Organizing and delivering a whole world's information/thoughts/opinions is a HUGE responsibility...

        Google does not organize. They simply provide a good search engine.

        From an information architecture point of view, the Internet is a disaster - nothing i

    • I agree, despite what all the fanatics say, Google hasn't ever really offered anything "new" persay. Yes, the way their map program works is neat and because of its speed it is better then other ones out there, but MapQuest and other came out with "internet mapping" years before, and even had satellite pix too. Google may have came out with a better search algorhythm but it was just as easy to find stuff on the web before they came along (Yahoo's old directory, though hell for them to maintain, was better
    • by centron (61482) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:51AM (#12291857) Homepage

      Yeah, just like if Firefox weren't around you'd just use IE, and if computers weren't around you'd just use a pen and paper, right?

    • by gosand (234100) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @09:31AM (#12292194)
      If they weren't around I'd just be using Yahoo or whatever, and having less unused space in my various free web-based email accounts.

      If Google wasn't around, I would be using

      Yahoo or whatever for my search engine.

      I'd probably still be using Mapquest for maps (and cursing it).

      I don't know if I'd be able to search newsgroups the way I do. Would DejaNews still be around?

      I guess I'd have to use local.yahoo.com instead of local.google.com to find things in my area.

      Image searching - well, I'd be out of luck.

      I'd just have to figure out how to do some conversions (like celcius to fahrenheit)

      And I don't even use all of Google's features. They are important, because they changed the game. They innovated, in a very simple way (to the end user). Google maps is awesome, but up until Google did it, Mapquest was "good enough". That is why they are important, because they seem to do the things they do VERY well. It would be scary to companies if Google decided to enter their area of expertise.

  • by Sanity (1431) *
    I must say that I have growing concerns about the prospect of one company effectively determining what can and cannot be found on the world wide web, not to mention one company handling the email of a vast proportion of Internet users.

    I mean, much as I hate to criticise one of Slashdot's fatted calves, and much as I recognise how innovative Google is, and what a keen grasp they clearly have of how to design user interfaces for the web, Google are answerable to shareholders, not some higher moral sense, mu

    • by Anonymous Coward
      Before Google, there was Yahoo, THE search engine. It seems entirely unlikely that any one company could ultimately restrict what can and cannot be found. If useful knowledge isn't be presented by one agent, I'm sure some enterprising individual(s) will come up with something that DOES present it.

      If Google gets lazy, someone else will be willing to take over.
      • I also used Yahoo exclusively for web searching. However, I hated how 'busy' their site was and the time it took to load up all the flashy bits.

        When I first discovered Google, sometime in 98 or 99, the number one thing that attracted me (besides good search results) was the non-obstrusive nature of their webpage.
        It was nice and simple and loaded quickly because of the content (or lack thereof).

        One thing that I can't stand are web pages that are so busy looking, I can't easily figure out how to get the i
      • Man, ten years ago* Altavista was "THE" search engine. It was so far superior to everything else there just wasn't any comparison.

        *holy crap. Is it that long already? I feel old.
    • MSN is used by many people who won't change their home pages in IE. Yahoo is used by many others, evidenced by its high level of registered users, who are more familiar with that site.

      Google may be a verb, but it doesn't control the WWW or what can and cannot be found on it.

      If Google tried to censor or in any way hamper what could and could not be found on the web, there will be others who take over, and Google knows this. They'd lose ad revenue, consequently, and that's the end of them. That is why they
    • " I must say that I have growing concerns about the prospect of one company effectively determining what can and cannot be found on the world wide web"

      Blame the French.

      "cooperative P2P web search network that could do what Google does"

      Are you serious? Google works so well because the have super-fast clusters with uber-caching. A p2p type network would be sloooooow, and give you different results each time you logged on. No thanks, I don't think the nice ideology is worth the trouble.
      • by Sanity (1431) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:05AM (#12291460) Homepage Journal
        A p2p type network would be sloooooow
        Not necessarily, the paper linked in my blog entry demonstrates that this is possible in logarithmic time. With a UDP-based protocol it could be very fast indeed.
        give you different results each time you logged on
        Why?
        • "Not necessarily, the paper linked in my blog entry demonstrates that this is possible in logarithmic time. With a UDP-based protocol it could be very fast indeed."

          logarithmic would be the theoretical max would it not? Actually, Your idea would be reasonable if everyone had fiber (or something really fast), but with dsl and cable I just don't see it happening... I'll take a moment out of my work day and read the paper though since I'm not doing anything else around here...

          "give you different results
          • I was assuming this would be similar to Gnutella, where you get different results based on which super-node you connect to.
            No, its a different approach that doesn't rely on supernodes, its entirely decentralised, and far more scalable than a supernode-based architecture.
            • I didn't read the PDF (meh) paper you link to, but I'm wondering how a P2P web search would deal with the issue of trusting search results gained from peers. Seems like a playground for "SEO" crooks.
              • It's discussed in the artical under "Closenes vs Quality", and it basically says that it would be hard to do with the anonymous and distributed network it describes, and more research needs to be done.

                After reading most of the paper, the idea is cool, but it still needs a lot of work in the "real world" aspects of the technology. I do think it could be done, but I definatly don't see it being nearly as effective as google.
    • by Albio (854216)
      If you can't find something important on Google, do you just giveup?
    • by Jurph (16396)
      I think you mean a sacred cow.

      A "fatted calf" is fattened up because it's about to be slaughtered and eaten. A "sacred cow" is in no such danger.
    • I must say that I have growing concerns about the prospect of one company effectively determining what can and cannot be found on the world wide web, not to mention one company handling the email of a vast proportion of Internet users.

      While I see what you are saying and I agree due to my tinfoilhatness I have to disagree that it is "handling the email of a vast proportion of Internet users."

      This is a typical Slashdotter perception. Most people outside of "techies" don't use GMail. They may in the futur
    • by dema (103780)
      I must say that I have growing concerns about the prospect of one company effectively determining what can and cannot be found on the world wide web, not to mention one company handling the email of a vast proportion of Internet users.

      http://www.a9.com

      http://www.alltheweb.com/

      http://www.yahoo.com

      http://search.msn.com

      http://www.lycos.com/

      http://www.altavista.com/

      http://www.dogpile.com/

      http://search.excite.com/

      http://search.looksmart.com/

      http://www.ask.com/

      Where are you getting this "one company"
    • So, when I write one of these...how much are you going to sue me for?
    • Isn't is kinda scary?

      is sure is kinda scary, but are and were are the ones that really keep me up at night...
    • Let's say that tomorrow Google says that, in the interest of increasing revenue, they are going to implement GooglePops, their new pop up and pop under advertising service. "Our advertisers have been asking for fresh methods of recovering customer eyeballs in this space," said a Google rep.

      The outcry would be immediate. The Slashdot story would get 5,000 comments. There would be people who said that this proved that Google was evil, after all. And there would be people who would defend them, in the con
    • it should be possible to create a decentralised, cooperative P2P web search network that could do what Google does, but without any centralised reliance on a service, but rather a decentralised reliance on other people.

      In that case, check out The Internet Portal [nyti.dyn.ee]. They're trying to build exactly what you're describing -- something similar to the Google 'grid' platform that they run all these distributed net-wide services upon, except it's distributed among all of its owners instead of centrally controlled
  • Internet barons... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by Gopal.V (532678) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:54AM (#12291384) Homepage Journal
    Google's always behind technology
    Yahoo's always behind safe money (see the Y! News vs G News)

    And Microsoft is behind all evil,
    Netscape survived as Firefox and
    Macromedia just went to Adobe ..

    That's a brief history of the web since Y2K :)
  • Googlewhack (Score:5, Funny)

    by Malc (1751) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:55AM (#12291387)
    Thank you Google. Without you that madman Dave Gorman might have stopped after meeting people with the same name. But with your help he got to play Googlewhack and I got to listen to his stories and split my sides with laughter.
  • by Enigma_Man (756516) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:55AM (#12291388) Homepage
    I'm curious to hear from people that have bad experiences with Google, or wish they did something another way, or even any examples of "corporate evilness" from them.

    I'm not trying to be trollish, just curious if anybody has any perspective other than the very good experiences most of us have had with Google.

    -Jesse
    • by Timesprout (579035) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:58AM (#12291401)
      Google ate my hamster.
    • by DelawareBoy (757170) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:00AM (#12291413)
      How about Google assisting censorship in China?

      http://www.marketingvox.com/archives/2005/04/15/ ch ina_censorship_working_google_workers_happy/

      As an avid reader of Slashdot, I think we all can find a bit of evil in this..
      • "Don't be evil...unless there is money to be made"
        • As far as I knew, the whole Chinese censorship thing wasn't about money. My understanding (which may be wrong, correct me if I am) was that Google was attempting to pre-censor some news stories for the Chinese, so that China wouldn't block the site completely. It was a choice between leaving out some stories, or having China block the entire site. Maybe it was the wrong choice, but the reasons behind it didn't seem all that sinister.
      • by oneiros27 (46144) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:19AM (#12291568) Homepage
        You can either bring no service, or service in compliance with the rules and regulations of the locations that you are providing the service.

        Which one is more evil? Refusing to provide your service to a population that could otherwise benefit from it, even in its reduced capacity, or making it available, even if you might not be happy with the terms you're required to comply with?

        The correct answer -- neither. Neither one is inherently evil. The first one is petty and immature, and the second one can be construed as greedy without knowing all of the details.
        • Here's a touchy subject. (No trolling, really, trying to make a counter example).

          Is it better not to have slavery? Or to have slavery and abide by the law, and treat your slaves as nice as you can? I'd vote that the first one is the more socially responsible one.

          Yeah, this is a bit of a stretch comparison, but the point I'm trying to make is that Google could have made a stand to say, "what you, China, is doing is wrong, and we will "do no evil." Instead, they accept the check and say, "we'll do what we c
          • Here's a touchy subject. (No trolling, really, trying to make a counter example). Is it better not to have slavery? Or to have slavery and abide by the law, and treat your slaves as nice as you can? I'd vote that the first one is the more socially responsible one. Yeah, this is a bit of a stretch comparison, but the point I'm trying to make is that Google could have made a stand to say, "what you, China, is doing is wrong, and we will "do no evil." Instead, they accept the check and say, "we'll do what we
    • by michaelhood (667393) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:02AM (#12291439)
      Google's AdWords [google.com] program is completely opaque in it's processes. I get my clicks reduced/"slowed"/paused on some keywords, and through the roof on others. Google flat out ignores requests for explanations. Google also turns a huge blind eye to fradulent clicks, which we estimate could be as high as 10-20% of all registered clicks. This is not limited to just myself. Both issues are well documented on the webmasterworld.com forums by dozens of other advertisers. Higher volume advertisers get no preferential treatment from what I can tell, except that we just run into problems *more* often, due to the volume.
    • Click fraud in Adwords/Adsense [slashdot.org]. Google says the problem is minimal, but it's not. Yes, it's in Google's best interest to clean it up to maintain confidence in the system, but they don't want to let on how big a problem it is for the same reason. They don't want people to start asking for credits or refunds.

      Scams perpetrated through Adwords/Adsense. Keywords are being bid up by the scum that can afford to--the ones that lie to make the sale. It's tough for a legit company to compete with one that will lie.
    • Someone offered RSS feeds of Google news, and they takedown'd him. That was the point they became evil in my book.
    • Just reported in the Wall street journal today: The WSJ's "Heard on the Street" column discusses Google, saying that the co's profit may increase from last year, thanks in part to an accounting move. Before its IPO, Google chose to speed up when it would recognize more than $750 mln in expense related to cheap stock options granted to employees. Using a technique known as "accelerated amortization," Google recognized the bulk of this expense in 2002, 2003 and 2004. The flip side: Now that it is a public co
    • I prefix any email address I give so that it is particular to the company I am contacting - I'm hardly a breakaway revolutionary there. I wrote to Google to ask about future services using the alias google@mydomain.com. The vast majority of spam I now receive is to that alias. I wrote to them to ask them why and funnily enough never heard back from them.

      I know that's hardly the end of the world but it's depresing nonetheless.
  • by Adult film producer (866485) <van@i2pmail.org> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:56AM (#12291391)
    Unless you reject cookies from google outright, they can learn a lot about you. The colour of shirts you like to wear, what cpu manufacturer you prefer, what ideas you had for mother's day presents, everything concerning your sexuality, your political leanings (left, right, fascist, communist.)

    Give them a few years and their database of profiles will be awsome.. I just hope their not working in concert with any covert u.s. government institutions.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    I searched for "google evil" and got a mere 3.3 million hits but ... ...searching for "microsoft evil" yielded a token 2.6 million hits.

    They pretty much cancel each other out as I see it.
  • by pete19 (874979) <pete19 AT gmail DOT com> on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:58AM (#12291400) Homepage Journal
    I tend to find that especially amongst "non-geeks", Google IS the internet. Could they have much more of an impact than that?
  • by michaelhood (667393) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @07:58AM (#12291405)
    Sterling, VA (REUTERS) April 20, 2005 -- The recent thrust of Google stories on the ever-popular Slashdot website have not been just a coincidence. Slashdot will be renamed to Googledot effective May 1, 2005. Slashdot editors seek to assure the readership that all of Slashdot's features will remain, including but not limited to 3+ Google stories per day, and an infinite amount of dupes.
  • Garage? (Score:5, Funny)

    by MoonFacedAssassin (539728) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:00AM (#12291409)
    ...they may just succeed in assuming the fair and honourable dominion over the world's information they so naively set out to achieve eight years ago in their garage.

    Is it just me, or does it seem every computer "revolution" begins in a garage (*ahem* apple, etc)?

    *Note to self* Get a garage.
  • Google a threat? (Score:5, Insightful)

    by gtoomey (528943) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:00AM (#12291416)
    Google revenue: 3 Billion. Microsoft Revenue: 38 Billion

    Unless Google pulls a rabbit out of a hat (like a new operating system), I cant see this changing any time soon.

    • Re:Google a threat? (Score:3, Interesting)

      by Deliveranc3 (629997)
      You do realize the first billion is by far the hardest don't you.

      Google isn't all powerful yet for a diffrent reason, they simply haven't had enough time at the top yet, yahoo, hotbot and all other search engines initially provided increadibly accurate results but were later spammed out of existance and are only now returning to functionality.

      Google will likely face the same fate, the attacks on blogs has been one symptom the attack on googles adwords may be the next.
  • YaGooHooGle! (Score:2, Interesting)

    by Dante Shamest (813622)

    For those of you who can't decide whether Yahoo! or Google is better...

    YaGooHooGle! [yagoohoogle.com]
  • by tech-hawger (874902) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:00AM (#12291420) Homepage
    I think they're doing a good job of "not being evil". People freaked out when Gmail first came out because of the whole we'll-scan-your-emails-to-show-relevant-ads thing. But people aren't complaining too much now with 2 gigs free space (and increasing everyday). Yahoo was all over the 1gig free e-mail but hasn't said much in regards to Google's 2gig offering. They have been getting new products to the market a lot faster than their competitors. It's now mostly Yahoo and Google with Microsoft somewhat lagging behind in the innovation and speed department.
  • by FhnuZoag (875558) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:01AM (#12291421)
    Yeah. So they think that goodness will triumph. Fat chance. The Dark Side always wins. Power corrupts. No matter what pledges are made, there is nothing concrete that will keep google from becoming 'evil'. After all, everyone's perception of evil changes, and who knows what would happen if Google starts thinking for people, deciding for its customers what it's best interests are? The online community is getting too reliant on google. We need competition. We need alternatives. If one group be allowed to dominate, it needs to be one with openness and non-profitness written into its being. And google does not have that.
    • Not necessarily. The Dark side wins when the majority play an honest game and someone who has ill intention breaks the rules to aquire the most amount of wealth, power..whatever..in the shortest amount of time.

      When the majority of firms are part of the 'dark side' then it makes more sense to go counter what they do and just let the integrity and quality of your work speak for you. Eventually, the people get fed up with the dark side shitting on them and then they turn to you as a shining example of how to
  • by hsmith (818216) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:01AM (#12291425)
    They have converted slashdot into their press release center, you always know what is going on with google!
  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:01AM (#12291427)
    I know I will be modded down for this but still need to say it.

    Google has had very little real impact on the "Internet". For those of us who used it before Google, before the web, P2P, bittorrent, and the hordes of stupid people who populate it, the internet is about the same.

    I think that if Google has had any effect it is largely negative. Google Groups has done more harm then good, Usenet used to be a place you could go for real information. Now it is nothing but complete crap.

    As for searching, Altavista was acceptable before google was on the scenes. Google really offers nothing new. They simple consolidate what can be found elsewhere by any savvy user.

    Don't get me wrong. I think they are a great company and I use their products every day but I also think they are just another internet company and eventually they will be replaced. Companies like these (Google, Yahoo, Ask Jeeves) tend to have a boom followed by a period of dwindling interest as it finds its niche. Google is just another niche company that happens to be in the boom stage at the moment.

    • by Anonymous Coward
      I'm not quite following how Google had a negative impact on USENET. I think USENET's decline in usage (and quality for that matter) is tied directly to the fact that they really didn't 'market' themselves as a useful service for information dissemination to the masses
      I too used to go on USENET quite a bit to find out interesting tech information, but I stopped in the late ninties once surfing the web made getting that information a whole lot easier (and cleaner for tha tmatter). It's not a good thing whe
      • "they didn't market themselves"? who is "they"? usenet's totally decentralised, there is no "they" to market anything.
        google groups has done usenet harm in a way: they've now got "google groups" and most younger people don't know their NNTP from their elbow. you can now not only post to usenet via google groups, but *start up new google groups* which obviously don't propogate out to usenet - hence a google groups user's unlikely to go and start using usenet.
        usenet's signal to noise ratio is somewhat h
  • Even if Google is dominating the internet search business at the moment, and doing that is a powerful position in the information age of today, I find it a bit exaggerated that there's a discussion on how Google may threaten Microsoft Corporation. They make everything from computer mice and game marketing, to maintaining an own development language, and operating systems spanning from the table PC to large datacenters. Let's not forget that. :-) This beast won't go down even if Google one day will overtake
  • by ausoleil (322752) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:05AM (#12291464) Homepage
    Think of the progression in the trilogy, "Lord of the Rings" -- the main character, Frodo Baggins, starts as an ingenue, takes on the task, and at the end, once he realizes the true power of the Ring, decides that he will keep it for himself. Of course, there is a twist of fate and a happy ending, but one thing was for certain: Frodo was seduced by the power the Ring offered.

    The same thing will likely happen to Google, though the term 'evil' may a bit overused. Google is a public company now, and like all public companies, they have a responsibility to maximize shareholder value. If the directors of the company will not do this, the board has a responsibility to put in place people who will.

    That said, Google will become more like Microsoft and more like Adobe over time. They will try to protect their market share, they will try to prevent the entry of others into their market space that they perceive as a threat. And, given the world's propensity to pull for the "little guy" Google will in turn be perceived (rightly or wrongly) as a bully, a bad guy and therefore -- evil.

    This is a natural progression for successful startups. Microsoft did not begin as a huge monolith, it was a small company that one could send an e-mail to the founders and usually get a reply. It was also a decent company from a service standpoint. They grew, their market grew and the service got a lot less personal and the stakes got a whole lot bigger. Thirty years later, they are thought of as a James Bond villain.

    • by Ender_Stonebender (60900) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:45AM (#12291801) Homepage Journal
      The same thing will likely happen to Google, though the term 'evil' may a bit overused. Google is a public company now, and like all public companies, they have a responsibility to maximize shareholder value. If the directors of the company will not do this, the board has a responsibility to put in place people who will.

      The philosophy behind "maximize shareholder value" is one that I have never been able to understand. A corporation will certainly want its stock to maintain some value - otherwise they will not be able get new capital through issuing new stock - but in the end it's not the stockholders that keep the company in business. It's the customers who keep the company in business. (And in the case of Google, the "customers" I'm referring to aren't the people giving Google money, they're the people using Google to search - although in Google's case some concessions must be made to advertisers.) A company that has customers who are happy with its products will probably maintain or increase the value of its stock (not to mention customer loyalty and word-of-mouth's affect on profit margins). A company that is increasing the value of its stock artificially (by stock buy-backs, for example), is probably not a company that is keeping its customers happy.

      I'm not trying to say companies that are trying to maximize shareholder value are evil. I'm trying to say that I think the belief that maximizing shareholder value is a good business practice is misguided, as it's something that will happen naturally if the company is being run properly.

      I know I'm probably talking out my ass and will be flamed for it, but that's the way I feel.

      --Ender
      • Keeping customers happy is definitely a major component of maximizing shareholder value but it's certainly not the only way.

        Additionally, the stockholders are the owners. They're the ones who have money invested and want a return on that investment.

        I'll agree 100% that Wall Street dances and finagling with the stock in artificial manners isn't in the best interests of either the stockholders or the company, but the goal of a company at the end of the day is to earn the owners money.
        After all, if you sta

  • Sergey and Larry are answerable to the stock holders now. Their responsibility is to maximise shareholder value. That may or may not coincide with a nice guy image. As for 'corrupt corporations' - they are there to make money for their owners, not be some quasi-religious body to make us feel good.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    So, all Google need to do now, is setup Google Religion, and use that to determine good and evil.
  • There were times all my buddies were using altavista because it gave good hits.
    Google is just the best until it gets too big, too bloated and the right information doesn't pop up at the top of the list but rather adds related to your search. The next best search engine is just waiting to happen.
  • by Anonymous Coward
    "...arguably one of the most important companies in the world..."

    Huh??? What about, oh, I don't know... oil companies, food companies, telecom companies, drug and health industries, transportation.... I could go on, perhaps just consider companies that have been around for, oh, longer than 10 years or so for some companies that are vastly more "important" than some search engine.

    The internet is not the entire world, people, much as we sometimes wish it were. If it magically went away today, the vast maj
  • Just wait (Score:2, Funny)

    by Gatton (17748)
    Just wait till Google becomes Googlezon! [broom.org] Then we can really start to worry. I am waiting to hear the announcement that Google is moving their office to Cheyenne Mountain.
  • Wow (Score:3, Insightful)

    by mattmentecky (799199) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:16AM (#12291538)
    arguably one of the most important companies in the world

    I guess this is where the arguably comes in....Google is great and all but...one of the most important companies? In the grand grand scheme of things I would say that it is barely even relevant. Sit back and think about any company that is researching an AIDS cure/vaccine, cancer treatment, any kind of any disorder - Alzheimer's, parkinson's, multiple sclerosis...and depending on how you cut 'company' I would hazzard a bet to say that any non-profit company is more important/relevant than Google...

    Keep perspective people, at least quantify your statement with "most important tech companies" and then you have a more sane argument. Google is just a good company.
    • by yagu (721525) *

      I disagree with your statement: "...., In the grand grand scheme of things I would say that it is barely even relevant...."

      A company (or person for that matter) doesn't have to be curing a disease to be important... It merely has to be important. And Google is that! And, we can argue the nuance of how important, but for me any company that can "verb" its own name has done something (especially considering contextually the verb "Google" is a benign, even good construct, not an expletive).

      Google may not p

  • by Locarius (798304) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:18AM (#12291560)

    What it comes down to me is the fact that Google seems to actually care about pushing new ideas and new technologies. Microsoft has always been about giving the user as little as possible until someone else innovates, and then sinking cash into bringing it to the popular market.

    Microsoft's impact on the Internet exists because most people are browsing from a Microsoft platform. If Google can introduce a platform to browse to all their services easily (Google branded Knoppix, perhaps) they might just remove the element of: "I'll use Microsoft Internet services because it must work smoothly with my OS".

  • What I find funny is that the french are going to work with MS on doing their books, and MS has a LONG, LONG, LONG history of screwing every one of their partners. Google comes along and is trying to do the rights things and then is accused of being nasty. What a world.
  • I'd like to read the Fortune piece but they seem to changed their login requirements in order to thwart BugMeNot (subscribers have to enter their name, email and postal address rather than the username and password BugMeNot shares).

    So, could someone with a subscription do us all a favor and cut n' paste?

  • From the Globe and Mail article: "If Sergey and Larry stick to their corporate mantra - Don't be evil - and are able to stem degeneration into the typically corrupt corporate ethos, ..."

    I find that interesting. I have come to the same conclusion, that there are social processes that cause organizations to become corrupt. I doubt that the leadership of Google has much theoretical understanding of those processes, so I worry that Google will eventually lose its ability to be successful.

    Don't bother reading the Fortune Magazine "article". It is the typical Fortune Magazine hack job. In my opinion, Fortune Magazine's business plan is just to tell rich people what they want to hear. Also, the article is an advertisement to give money to the magazine, not the full article.

    The Fortune Magazine article is called "Gates vs. Google". However, Microsoft has never been successful competing in areas where the company does not have a virtual monopoly due to proprietary file formats like those in NTFS and Microsoft Word.

    In my opinion, Microsoft so lacks the ability to compete honestly that the company tries to steal [google.com] what it cannot create. Microsoft is more a troublemaker than a competitor.
  • by Stalyn (662) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:40AM (#12291757) Homepage Journal
    Yeah... until Google Slavery is released in the next coming months... not to be confused with Sim Slavery.. that is what happens to EA employees.

  • RTFA (Score:3, Informative)

    by mike260 (224212) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @08:46AM (#12291812)
    Oh, wait, I can't because I don't have a Fortune subscription. And here's me with 5 mod points but no way to mod down the retard who posted the story.
  • by esconsult1 (203878) * on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @09:23AM (#12292122) Homepage Journal
    It seems clear to me that Google has Seen the Light (tm) with the successfull Ajax implementations of Maps and Gmail. This means that an enhanced version of Firefox -- all pointed to by the new hires and empolyee requirements -- is in the works.

    An enhanced version of Firefox freely downloadable from Google for all operating systems would be their own platform which, besides being able to view standard web pages, would enable then to distribute richer applications in a brand (Firefox) that has mindshare and user buy in.

    Think! Mac applications are cool because of the contained environment that is OS X (except Apple did not create enough of their own native applications). Microsoft is successfull with their applications because they built a container that is at least perfect for them -- Windows. The same will apply to Google with what I am convinced will be the enhanced browser environment based on Firefox.

    Why is Linux not gaining on the desktop? Because there is no "perfect Linux desktop container". The properties of such a container is that it should be standardized, easy to accept new client programs, have easy to use services and a well known API that is well documented and defined so that programmers can easily write to it.

    Instead we have a bunch of fragmented containers (KDE, Gnome, lots of lesser known desktop environments) that are incomplete and immature. Heck, its a pain the ass sometimes to get simple brain-dead stuff such as printing and mounting a drive working. So you have projects like OpenOffice having to write their own container!!! And Miguel (bless his heart) making a version of Microsoft's .NET container (Mono) for Linux that is still incomplete and sits with an incomplete container -- Gnome, which is sitting on top of an incomplete desktop container -- Linux.

    I know this is a rant, but my shop recently switched back to Windows from Linux desktops (about 40 people), why? Because the new CEO (and me too), were sick and tired of people trying to get things to work together properly. We were sick of not having an Exchange replacement (don't get me started on the open source once now "available"). And new hires and our clients were just plain used to using the dominant containers out there (windows/mac).

    So Google is moving in the direction of best of all worlds. They are creating their own perfect container for their applications, that can run on imperfect operating systems. Genius! I don't even have to wish them luck, because its a great idea which has to work -- unless they get Evil.

  • by Kaa (21510) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @10:22AM (#12292639) Homepage
    All you guys looking for bright and shiny net future under the enlightened rule of Google should go and google for the "philosopher-king" meme...

  • by dusanv (256645) on Wednesday April 20, 2005 @10:51AM (#12292937)
    It has combined software innovation with a brand-new Internet business model--and it wounds Gates' pride that he didn't get there first

    Seriously, what did MS do first? The association 'MS = cool new technology' makes not sense to me. They almost missed the Internet by their own admission. I think BillG isn't pissed that didn't come up with a cool search engine but because he can't kill Google like he did with numerous others.

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