Dependence: The story of 90s babies and Google

As a firm believer in the saying “nothing lasts forever”, you would think I would be able to imagine the downfall of an entity that has been in the world for less than 20 years but unfortunately I cannot. Earlier this week I began to paint an image of what the globe would look like without Google but my brush came short. Google and its parent company Alphabet have not only infiltrated most devices as the one stop shop for knowledge (Search) but they have infiltrated how we communicate (Gmail), how we organize ourselves (Calendar), how we backup our information (Drive), how we search for information (Chrome) and even how we spend our leisure time/make money (Youtube). By *we, I mean most of the people I have encountered in my lifetime – 90s babies. To imagine a world without them would be to imagine a life without the subsidiaries that make it too. Google Alphabet’s economic weight, at US$600 billion as of 2017, means that if it were to disappear, the global economy would take a serious hit. I will go as far as to say technology would irrevocably be set back twenty years. We would live like children who have been exposed to the joys of candy but who have also been told that they will never be able eat it again.

Nevertheless, the best way to tackle a giant that seems invincible is to deal with it in small parts. The first “part” would naturally be the Google search engine. Like Kleenex is to tissue and Hoover is to Vacuum so is Google to knowledge and the search of it. Google has managed to offer information at the click of a button and become the one stop shop for everything. Of course, they are not the first to do this, lest we forget Yahoo. But what Google has managed to do effectively (yes I probably sound biased at this point) is to partner with companies which make it not only the most used search engine but the most visible one. Take for example their partnership with Apple:

“Customers searching on Apple’s Safari browser across its Mac, iPad and iPhone portfolio already received Google search results, and investment firm Bernstein has estimated Google currently pays around $3bn (£2.2bn) for this deal”.

Meaning that Google is literally on almost every smart device in 2018, bearing in mind that they own Android too. They have managed to practically eliminate their nearest competition, Bing/Yahoo and the only way I see this changing is if Yahoo and Bing merge with smaller search engines to become the dominant force in countries Google does not have full access to. China and Vietnam maybe! Until then Google’s search engine will continue to reign on a global scale.

Let us say a user wanted to use a browser that was not Safari, Chrome maybe; they would still be feeding into Google’s dominion. With its “faster performance and access to more extensions”, Google’s Chrome has become “the most popular browser in the world with a market share over 40 percent”. The only way this would change is if their partnerships with other GAFA members namely Amazon ( on the advertising front) and Apple failed. This alone would take away their constant visibility and their continued access to a significant amount of consumer data.

As an average technology user, I open YouTube to watch videos during my study breaks, I use Google Maps to orient me when I want to check the time my next bus is arriving at, I respond to my personal and business emails on my Gmail account and do my work on Google Docs and save it to Google Drive. Google is inescapable not only because of its search engine as mentioned earlier but because of all of these other features and these are only a handful. Click here for  a rather comprehensive list of what else they own.

I have not yet mentioned Google Analytics, News and especially Translate which are tools that have made the world more globalised but I shall maybe save that for another post. As for now, I only see fellow GAFA member, Facebook, creating a suite that is as comprehensive as Google’s but even this will likely take two decades (the same time it took Google to set up shop). Facebook would have to alongside its social media, combine leisure activities, provide access to academic research material (the way Google Scholar does), provide access to Books (Google Books) and offer even more comprehensive consumer behaviour information.

I have no affiliation with Google whatsoever, I am just calling it as I see it and it is practically impossible for me to imagine life without them. But then again I am  a stereotypical 90s baby*.

*(Not really but this post definitely makes me sound like it).

 

The following is a hypothetical article from Forbes on May 20, 2027. It has just been announced that Facebook has added “FB Search” to their offerings. It is an instant-results search engine.

Google has dwindled and many have reported that this news is the latest nail in their coffin.

On May 20, 2027, Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg announced that Facebook was providing users with the chance to search for anything on the World Wide Web using the search bar provided on their platform, ‘FB Search’. The announcement came not long after it was announced that Facebook had taken over Bing and Yahoo for an amount that is yet to be disclosed. Users of Facebook have hailed the addition of the search engine, with some saying that now Facebook allows them to connect with friends, shop for goods, read books, promote their businesses, watch videos AND search for any content on the Web. All in one platform.

Zuckerberg’s ‘FB Search’ announcement also came about after complaints that people wanted to access all their services in a convenient way and after it was proven that former powerhouse Google was using their Analytics arm to sell information to political parties who were subsequently targeting Google users maliciously and fraudulently. The new head of ‘FB Search’, Carla Mi, has stated that they have “learnt from the mistakes of others in the past and [will] make their search engine a safe space for users all around the world”. Mi also went on to state that user privacy will be treated as rigorously as ever with the revision of the Facebook Terms & Conditions to allow people to tentatively opt out of FB Analytics.

Facebook is launching their Calendar in August which will be linked to their Office drive late next year. Forbes is still waiting for comment regarding the new FB drive. An unnamed insider has however reported that the talks with Facebook and Microsoft are nearing a close and Facebook Excel, Powerpoint and Word will be available online for free in early 2029. The drive will also be linked to Facebook Messenger which the Guardian reported last year, was the most used way that students shared research and information worldwide.

The head of Facebook Video, Tinashe Raga has stated that the video platform is about to start commissioning original content from video content creators; allowing for both creativity and job creation. And as opposed to situations where certain content was restricted in varying geographical locations, Facebook is offering more parity on who can access content no matter where they are in the world.

 

 

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