This week we learnt about the Internet’s Big 3 : Microsoft, Apple and Google. I am a loyal Windows user on my PC, I had an Apple iPhone for the past 3 years but have since made the jump to a Windows phone as well. Many friends have asked me to switch to the Mac, but I have stubbornly refused change, like how Microsoft users have been characterised.
Over the term, I have learnt more about Google in class, more than Microsoft and Apple. In e-business, we covered Adwords and Adsense, Google Trends. In AR, we talked about Google Glass and their AR-game: Ingress. In Google Tools, we covered so many products that I use on a daily basis like Google Maps, Gmail, Google Hangouts and Google Translate and of course Google Search! I always knew that Google was important, but I only JUST REALISED the extent of just how so many products and services that Google covers and in so many aspects of our lives.
It is pretty amazing how far Google has come, since it was a latecomer as compared to Microsoft and Apple. Its humble beginnings in 1998 as a search engine was also very quickly outshone the earlier predecessors like Yahoo, Aol, MSN etc. It has since come a long way, from offering online services to hardware products like the Nexus phones, Chromebooks and Google Glass. Now there are even going into self-driving cars, robots and homeware products like Chromecast, Google TV!
How is this done?
Google has been expanding by creating new products and services within its company, acquiring start-ups and companies big and small like Youtube, Picasa, and partnering other companies like GeoEye for satellite images for Google Earth.
An interesting and really ingenious strategy that Google has used is to play to their strengths and to make use of their existing products to build on their database, which is their main resource! A few posts ago, I wrote about Google’s global AR game, Ingress. It is said that the game also serves the function of using the members to build a database of walking directions from one point-of-interest to another. I was very surprised to learn that they have used this strategy before, such for the ESP game in 2006. It was a hugely popular game which got people to match associative words to image. Their answers contributed to Google’s database to improve their image search through word tags. reCAPTCHA also used the same strategy, banking on all the people using Google to verify hundreds of millions of words for the eBooks that the scanner could not recognise.
Recently, they have been causing rifts in the industry because of their recent purchases of companies in the robotic industries, leading them to guess what is the motive of Google! Here are some of the purchases:
- Redwood Robotics for robot arms
- Holomni for robot wheels
- Bot & Dolly for robotics cameras
- Boston Dynamics for creepy and cool mobile robots
- DeepMind Technologies for artificial intelligence
- Meka Robotics for humanoid robots
- Industrial Perception for computer vision (which may or may not be for robotics)
Hmms… suspicious? Well, Google’s unofficial slogan is
Don’t Be Evil!
Given the world’s dependence on Google and at the rate of their expansion in so many fields, I sincerely hope not! If not, I trust that Google is pushing new frontiers, and putting new contributions and changing our world for the better.
On a side note, one thing I really appreciate Google for is their sense of humour. Their little Easter Eggs, April Fools’ jokes, and their really pretty Google Art. As a large corporation, I think it’s really warm that they bother to add a little joy to our lives in their little way.
Here is a short video to add some laughs: