“Apple has ‘launches’ for their new stuff. Google rollouts are announced as *warnings*&internet-wide education campaigns on how to disable it” — mcc (@mcclure111) January 9
“Sad day. Time to rip the @nest off the wall” —
Dan Syde (@dansyde) January 13
“Google is going crazy with the acquisitions. They’re gonna acquire our life for free pretty soon #Nest” — Farhi (@farhink)January 14
These are just some of the innumerable tweets that users have posted on Twitter in just one week. The first is a response to Google’s decision to allow any stranger using Google+ to email you. The second is a response to Google’s acquisition of the much-loved Nest Labs which makes the Nest Learning Thermostat and the Protect smoke detector. The third is a response to the Nest acquisition and in a broader sense to the ‘new Google’. If these tweets range from annoyance to utter terror, that is because we still don’t know what Google is.
What is Google?
This question would have been easier to answer 10 years ago. It is not that easy to define Google in 2014, particularly the way it is being run by Larry Page. On the face of it, it is easier to call Google a search engine. The world’s largest advertising agency. The maker of the world’s most ubiquitous mobile operating system. With the acquisition of Motorola Mobility in 2011, Google is now also a mobile handset maker.
It is when we look at what Google is doing beyond these roles that it appears like Dave Lee’s definition of Google as the real life equivalent of the corporate behemoth Buy n Large from the movie Wall-E is spot on. Buy n Large, which starts out as a maker of frozen yoghurt with the name Buy Yoghurt, eventually comes to control everything in the Wall-E universe, from consumer goods, food and media to real estate, robotics and space.
It is no surprise that the Google predictive search for Buy n Large throws up the term ‘Buy n Large Google’ when we look at all the walks of life that Google has its toes in. With its Google Glass and smart contact lenses that can measure blood sugar levels, the company is into wearables. With the self-driving cars and the Open Automotive Alliance, Google wants to make cars autonomous and even before that wants your car to run Android. With Google Fiber, it is wiring up entire cities in the US to give super fast broadband. It has balloons in near space through its Loons program for Internet connectivity.
In the past month or two itself it has announced that the father of Android, Andy Rubin, is working on Robotics as part of its moonshots project. To further boost that Google has bought Boston Dynamics which is capable of producing sophisticated military robots. Now with the acquisition of Nest which makes well-designed household products like thermostats, Google has sneaked into people’s houses.
Even as it enters all these varied industries, the company itself whose famous motto was ‘Don’t do Evil’ is getting less and less transparent. As the push to bring Google+ into people’s lives through underhanded tactics like changing YouTube commenting shows Google is now an unstoppable behemoth with unimaginable amounts of data so much so that Rob Enderle, the American technology analyst, says to BBC: ‘I kind of think Google read Big Brother and took it as a career goal’.
Not a week goes by when technology press doesn’t come up with a scary story promising doomsday, but the new Google is worth that scare. To paraphrase Walter White from Breaking Bad, Google is in the Empire business. And we should all be scared.
What is google?
● Search engine and the world’s largest ad agency
● Mobile handset maker
● Making wearables
● Wants to make cars autonomous
● To give super fast broadband in the US cities
● It has balloons in near space for Net connectivity
● Working on Robotics
● Now into household products like thermostats
- The writer is a tech geek. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org