What is Google? I know that a lot of what happens in the SEO world is focused on the mechanics of Google, why searches come out the way they do, and their recent developments.
I want to take a slightly different approach and look at Google itself so that we can start thinking about what it is they are doing behind the algorithms. To look at how they are trying to grow their business far beyond their original concept, being a search engine, and perhaps even far beyond their current core philosophy (point 6) and their original unofficial motto – “Don’t be evil.”
What is Google up to Outside of Search…and Are They Evil?
The first article that lead me down the path of thinking that Google was becoming less altruistic than it once was is an article that appeared back in May 2013 over on the BBC’s website about tax avoidance by the Google UK office.
To be clear, they’re not doing anything illegal, they’re simply structuring it so that their over 650 million USD of turnover are only taxed to the tune of 10 million USD. Remember, this is the same country which once held their own most beloved citizens, The Beatles, liable for a 95% supertax on their earnings.
How they are doing this comes down to the fact that they have located their regional offices in Ireland (Dublin) and Bermuda – lower tax jurisdictions than being right in London proper. Other possible ways that Google could be doing this is by transferring high charges that have been levied against one national office to another lower division in another country. It isn’t illegal, but it isn’t done with the best interest of anyone but the company in mind – self centered actions are a part of being evil.
Does Google want a monopoly on…everything?
Google was once a simple page with a logo and a search bar. That is all Google did – search. They did it so well that they expanded into other online fields:
- Gmail gave them their own email client
- Google maps allows them to find your route for you
- Google Street View has been down your road with a camera snapping 360 degree photos
- Google Drive stores your documents in an easily accessible cloud
- Google Glass is their attempt at entering the gadget market
- Google + is their faltering attempt at a social network
- Google +’s new photo backup system may replace Instagram for your photo sharing needs, and possibly shutting down their Picasa service
- Google purchased YouTube to control and track what you are watching online (along with the whole changing of how people comment on YouTube through Google+ controversy)
And that is just a small list of what Google currently owns. Google is a whole lot more than just a search engine, and yet here we all are putting so much thought into their search feature. I think more and more that the Google search team is Matt Cutts alone in a room with a box of cookies wondering where all his friends have gone, while everyone else at Google is off working in a completely different field.
How this is leading them away from their original company goal, not being evil, and towards being a more monopolistic company, came about after reading another article on the BBC. This particular one looked at their recent acquisition of Nest Labs – a smart thermostat maker that connects to the internet. This may sound innocent, but what about sensors that begin to track your movement through thermostat? They can tell when you come home, when you open your fridge and what rooms you use. This data could be filtered back to those all important people – advertisers. Would this be innocent and anonymous data mining for PR firms, or outright invasion of privacy on an evil scale?
Coupling this purchase along with their buying of Boston Dynamics, who make humanoid robots, and their work in developing autonomous cars, and you’re no longer looking at a search engine company. You’re looking at a company that is determined to be a part of your everyday life in the near future – a monopoly is the most evil of companies. With the things mentioned in this paragraph alone, who can’t help but think of the 2004 film I, Robot?
That last comment was said jokingly. I hope.
Is Google an evil monopoly?
They’re not quite there yet, they’re more like evil-curious. For one, read an article like this which details their charitable donation to a local youth program.
For another, Google is still very much an online company with their immediate interests vested in what happens when you’re on the computer. Their future ventures are moving further and further away from this and when they succeed…that is when we will truly see whether or not they are evil, or if they have designs on being a monopoly.
I think it is worth a moment or two to determine, for yourself, when you would step away from using any Google services before you go back to debating the fine points of how the latest algorithm tweak changes things for marketers.