07 Nov Are you a citizen of the "Google Nation?"
Just as Wal-Mart proliferates the American landscape, Google is achieving a similar position in our daily lives. A day does not go by that Google’s brand and services don’t touch my life as a web user, consumer, reader of news media, and business owner.
The seven-year-old company, which makes the majority of its revenue from selling ads, went public just 15 months ago at $85 and closed at $390.43 on November 4th. Google’s market capitalization is over $109 billion, making it the fifth-largest technology company and it has surpassed Time Warner, Yahoo, and Disney as the most valued media company.
We’re a “Google Nation” as many of us use the company’s name as a verb for searching the web. Google captures over 50 percent of all web searches at home and work. Google plans to move further into our daily lives with new service offerings that will harness the power of the web, but will also threaten or create new opportunities for retailers, book publishers, realtors, telecommunications companies, local newspaper as well as numerous small and medium size companies.
“We watch Google very closely at Wal-Mart,” said Jim Breyer, a member of Wal-Mart’s board, in a recent New York Times article, that described how the company is concerned that Google’s technology might drive Wal-Mart shoppers to find better bargains nearby.
In mid- September Google added billions of dollars to its war chest when it issued 14 million additional shares of stock, giving it the financial power to go on a shopping spree. That combined with its newly launched instant messaging and mobile services as well as its pending entry into the Internet telephony business, and offers of no-charge wireless Internet access is creating quite a stir for a new group of potential competitors. The company has been quietly buying up fiber optic capacity and has invested in a company that delivers broadband access over power lines. It is rumored that the company will launch a free national GoogleNet, funded by its ability to offer relevant national and local ads.
In addition to Internet search, Google offers a variety of free services including: software to search your computer files, email accounts, maps, satellite images, blogging tools, instant messaging, photo sharing tools and posting, as well as specialized searched tools for images, news, shopping, and local information. On Google’s home page click on “Local” or “more” and visit “Labs” to see use their latest offerings. It largest and most controversial project is called Google Print, in which it is scanning and indexing millions of books.
Google is impacting corporations as well as local business. By combining services such as local search, maps and its satellite images, it could impact realtors, as buyers will have the ability to pinpoint their dream homes. Ads for local services along side search results combined with directions and a satellite image could impact the profitable local classified newspaper market.
Small business are benefiting from the relevant, low-cost advertising medium, for which they pay, only if someone clicks on their ads. But Google’s specialized search tools could impact retailers as buyers can comparison shop not just at online stores, but local merchants as well. Google could play this out by integrating search features with database and mobile phone technologies that let buyers know that same product can be purchased down the road for less.
Google is disrupting business as usual with its’ clever innovations. While the consumer may enjoy the new free tools that are simple and easy to use, businesses are being affected and need to plan accordingly. It’s time to think about how you are going to participate as citizens of the “Google Nation.”