Right this moment it might sound that Google’s energy and success have been inevitable — due to Larry Web page and Sergey Brin cracking the search code — however the actuality is sort of totally different. Google was born in a state of battle within the early 2000s, topic to the whims of Microsoft, a tech goliath whose Web Explorer browser was on 90 % of all computer systems on the time and basically managed most individuals’s entry to Google’s search engine. And regardless that Google received that battle, it’s confronted new ones ever since.
Within the second episode of Land of the Giants: The Google Empire — our new seven-part podcast approximately the corporate’s ascent to a world behemoth — we look at how Google, which is at present being sued by the Division of Justice and a number of other state attorneys common over antitrust points, has needed to combat for survival all through its existence.
Google reached its present heights solely by adopting a survivalist mentality — first clawing its solution to sustained relevance, after which ultimately to dominance in areas like search and cell working methods. The corporate’s early worry of failure nonetheless appears seen in lots of its present choices, equivalent to when it pays rivals (like Apple) to make it their working system’s default search engine, or when it fills its search outcomes with its personal merchandise.
Google’s survivalist story begins at a time when Web Explorer reigned supreme and Microsoft might have simply displaced Google as its browser’s default search choice. Again then, you didn’t kind search queries in your browser’s handle bar. To go looking with Google, you’d both kind www.google.com within the handle bar or hit the browser’s “search” button (which took you to Google’s webpage). Microsoft, if it so desired, might construct its personal search engine and make that the default, or it might allow search within the handle bar with one thing aside from Google. If Microsoft had executed one thing like that, it doubtless would have been the top of Google. So Google knew it wanted a workaround.
That workaround was Google’s Toolbar, a browser extension that added a Google search bar proper beneath the browser’s handle bar. A number of years after Google launched it, a whole lot of tens of millions of individuals have been utilizing Toolbar, thanks largely to Google signing distribution offers with corporations like Adobe to place it of their set up packages, and in addition its ease of use. Google, for a second, felt prefer it solved its drawback.
However as Google began creating different web-based applications that may change into core merchandise, like Gmail, Docs, and Calendar, the notion of permitting one other firm — particularly a competitor like Microsoft — to manage individuals’s expertise of the online made Google uneasy. Google noticed Microsoft creating its personal search engine, first referred to as Reside Search after which referred to as Bing, and determined it couldn’t depend on its Toolbar alone to encourage individuals to make use of Google search over rivals. The corporate wanted its personal browser. That’s what led it to create Chrome.
Google Chrome took off as a result of it was quick, easy, and simple to make use of, and in addition as a result of Google used related distribution offers from Toolbar to push it out to the plenty. However whereas Chrome was a smashing success — it’s now the dominant desktop browser on the earth — it supplied solely momentary reduction. As a result of simply as Chrome established itself on desktop, the cell revolution took off, leaving Google uncovered but once more in a brand new space.
Google didn’t need one other firm — whether or not it was Microsoft or Apple — controlling how individuals accessed the online and its merchandise from their telephones and different handheld units. It additionally knew it might profit from some type of standardization of the cell internet. And that turned the inspiration for Android, the cell working system it acquired in 2005 and developed inside its firm. Right this moment, Android powers nearly 85 % of the world’s telephones, that means Google is the pathway to the online for most individuals, not merely an internet site the place you go to search out stuff.
With out Android and Chrome, Google, “would have been relegated to most likely irrelevance,” Brian Rakowski, a Google VP of product administration who works on each Chrome and Google’s cell efforts informed us. “We most likely would have been both stamped out or a really, very tiny, most likely changing into irrelevant firm if we weren’t in a position to.”
All these battles acquired Google, as soon as a scrappy startup attempting to not get crushed by Microsoft, to the place it’s at the moment — on the high of the tech world, but in addition dealing with allegations that it’s grown too huge and is illegally stifling competitors.