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Google: A Perspective 1. Introduction and business perspective Google was founded in 1996 by Stanford University graduate students Larry Page and Sergey Brin. They built a search engine called BackRub that used links to determine the importance of individual web pages. By 1998 they had formalized their work, creating Google. They named their product Google, as a play on the word googol, which is the mathematical term for a 1 followed by 100 zeros. According to Googles website, The name reflects the immense volume of information that exists, and the scope of Googles mission: to organize the worlds information and make it universally accessible and useful. (Google Corporate Information, n.d.) Google is headquartered in Mountain View, California. It is a publicly held company with revenue of over $29 billion US dollars. Google has an estimated one-million-plus servers in six data centers around the world (Pandia, 2007). In September 2011, Google announced that it would be building three more data centers worth more than $200 million US dollars in Asia (Kim, 2011). Googles production offerings extend far beyond just search capabilities. Google also owns a multitude of other products including an e-mail service (Gmail), a web browser (Chrome), media sites (YouTube, Google Music), GPS directional sites (Google Maps), picture tools (Picnik, Picasa), blogging sites (Blogger), Cloud services (Google Cloud, Google Docs), a mobile phone operating system (Android) and much, much more. Additionally, Google has acquired a great deal of other companies including Keyhole, Inc., a company which had

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE developed a product called Earth Viewer which allowed Google to start Google Earth (Google Products, n.d.). Google is known for having a casual corporate culture. There are many employee perks such as free healthy shakes and drinks, ping pong tables and even a massage room. Google has consistently been listed in Fortune magazines list of best companies to work for. Googles corporate philosophy embodies such principles as "you can make money without doing evil,"

"you can be serious without a suit," and "work should be challenging and the challenge should be fun." (Google Philosophy, n.d.) The company has been taking steps to ensure that its operations are environmentally sound, including installing solar panels on their campuses and keeping herds of goats to keep grasslands short (Hoffman, 2009). Google is a noted supporter of network neutrality. Network neutrality is the idea that there should be no restrictions from internet service providers or the government on the internet and internet content (Whitt, 2010). Google also has a non-profit philanthropic organization called Google.org. The main mission of the organization has been to create awareness regarding climate change, global public health, and global poverty. Google consistently donates money to fund ideas that will aid communities and any organizations that they support. For example, in 2010, Google donated a total of ten million dollars to various non-profit organizations with a variety of goals such as promoting education or a website puts all legal documents online. More recently, however, the focus of the non-profit organization has shifted towards more engineering and technical contributions (Google.org, n.d.). Google has been consistently growing since its birth in the nineties. The company currently has two main sources of revenue, advertising payments and their enterprise business applications. Googles main source of revenue is from Search Advertising programs. One such

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE program, AdWords, was first introduced in 2000 with the goal to show people ads that are so useful and relevant that they are a form of information in their own right. Additional advertising programs that Google offers include display advertising or banner ads that display on pages with similar content to the advertisement as well as mobile advertising and cell-phone specific ad formats. Companies can also pay to have a bigger listing on Google Places (Google Business, n.d.). Google has also been growing their enterprise business applications since the 2000s. Google has a multitude of products including email, document storage, calendar functions and

more that are designed to help with workplace collaboration. Many of Googles products directly compete with Microsoft, the arguable leader in enterprise business services (Google Business, n.d.). 2. Technology perspective Google is well known for its powerful search engine and its mobile phone operating system. In these two distinct domains, Google is striving every single day to stay ahead of its competition. Google uses a system known as page ranking. The rank page system is so accurate and quick that it has revolutionized what people expect from a search engine (Google Technology Overview, n.d.). Googles search engine increases the quality of the search result and has left all of its competition in the dust. How does Google accomplish such fast searches? Google uses custom hardware and software. All of the servers and software Google uses are created by Google (Barroso, Dean & Urs, 2003). Google also has many servers. To give you an idea of how many servers they have, each rack has 40 servers with 150 racks per data center, and over 36 centers across the globe (Shankland, 2008). It is unknown how many data servers Google has but they are always


building new data centers. Google handles queries with the use of a domain name system (DNS) lookup to direct the queries to a cluster based on the proximity of the user to the cluster (Barroso, Dean & Urs, 2003). The DNS also does load balancing to different clusters if they are too busy to improve quality of their service. Googles web servers process the queries while also using load balance in order not to overload their servers within the cluster. Index servers consult an inverted index that maps the words in the queries to the hit list (matching list of documents the server has found). The index servers then determine how relevant each document is to the search which determines in which order the documents will be displayed. The document server then brings up the selected information found by the index servers. While performing this, Google web server has also sent the query to an ad-serving system to generate relevant ads according to the search as well as sending the query to a spell-checking system. All of the information then is sent back to the user. The main competitors of Google have been Microsoft and Yahoo. According to Wall, (n.d), Microsoft has been in the search engine business for a long time but it did not get serious until Google proved the business model. Microsoft switched from Yahoo! search to launch their own in-house technology, but the MSN search was less effective than Google and hence, less popular. Finally, in 2009, Microsoft launched Bing, a new search engine which allows online search suggestions for related searches directly in the result set. Like Microsoft, Yahoo! relied on other companies for its search results, considering it secondary to its core business (Wall, n.d). In 2002, Yahoo decided to start their own search engine section; to do so, they began to acquire other search companies. In the process, Yahoo! bought AltaVista and Overture in 2003, and the combination of the technologies from these


search companies helped Yahoo! in the creation of its own search engine. Brian Womack (2011) writes that: Search share for Google rose to 65.6 percent last month from 65.3 percent in September, according to Reston, Virginia- based ComScore. Yahoos share slipped to 15.2 percent from 15.5 percent a month earlier, while Microsoft added one-tenth of a percentage point, garnering 14.8 percent of the U.S. market. Google entered the Smartphone market by development of an operating system called Android. Android is a mobile platform based on the Linux Kernel. It was marketed to mobile handset manufacturers and cell phone carriers on the premise of the ability of a flexible and upgradable system (Android (operating system)). Google challenges the industry power house, i.e., Apple, by pursuing an open source mobile platform that any developer can use and any handset manufacturer can install on its operating system. Android is developed under a consortium called Open Handset Alliance. (Android (operating system)). The Open Handset Alliance comprises Broadcom Corporation, Google, HTC, Intel, LG, Marvell Technology Group, Motorola, Nvidia, Qualcomm, Samsung Electronics, Sprint Nextel, T-Mobile and Texas Instruments. The goal of the Open Handset Alliance is to develop open standards for mobile devices (Android (operating system)). Google believed that by opening up mobile devices to all developers, they could drive greater innovation and more choice for the benefit of mobile users everywhere. Googles main competitor has been Apple with its iPhone. The iPhone was primary developed for AT&T and gave Apple a quick control of the smartphone market which was held by RIM with its Blackberry. Both of these competitors have been overtaken by the popularity of the Android based Smartphone.

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE After a progressive accession in the US market, ComScore (2011) reported that during the three months ending in July, 82.2 million Americans owned a Smartphone, a ten percent increase from the previous three month period. Google Android shares of the market stood at 41.8 percent, an increase of 5.4 percent. Next was Apple with 27.0 percent of the Smartphone market share, an increase of one percentage point. In the third position was RIM with around 21.7 percent and far behind was Microsoft with 5.7 percent and Symbian with 1.9 percent. 3. Social Implications of Information Technology

Over the years, much has been written about the digital divide. The assumption is that those who lack technology suffer economically. Also, its not hard to understand how the lack of technology affects the economic and social standing of various ethnic groups. The basic thesis is if a given group lacks technology, that group is left behind. Consequently, governments and numerous individuals have over time championed the cause of equal access to technology and services such as the Internet these actions demonstrate at least a basic understanding that technology today plays a major role in economic welfare. However, while this basic understanding is there, other nuances related to the digital divide has been much harder to understand and address appropriately. Other factors besides the lack of technology affect a groups ability to effectively use technology to its own advantage. If the digital divide is to be mitigated adequately as many seek to do, these other factors need to be addressed to ensure equal access to hardware and Internet services merely giving a group computers and Internet access will not end all the problems commonly grouped under the digital divide umbrella. Ferro, Helbig, and Gil-Garcia (2011) defined the digital divide not as a dichotomous phenomenon reduced to the haves-and-have-nots, but instead urged that we consider the issue a

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE multi-dimensional problem. For instance, they pointed out that speaking English was positively associated with effective use of Internet-based services such as those offered by Google. Most Internet material is written in English, so a non-English speaking individual

would obviously miss out on a substantial amount of information available via this media. Also, different cultures will respond differently to technology based upon gender roles and cultural views. This situation can influence the effectiveness of programs addressing the digital divide. We can consider this an acknowledgement of the barriers society faces in addressing the goals of ensuring no group is left behind. All too often, the digital divide is assumed to mean a certain group lacks computers to effectively use modern media such as the Internet. But the problem goes beyond simply lacking computers and infrastructure. IT literacy for instance plays a significant role in effective use of the Internet and information search and retrieval services offered by companies such as Google. For instance, the three researchers mentioned above pointed out that IT literacy was positively associated with Internet access, and IT literacy was improved with Internet access in other words, literacy and effective use of technologies such as the Internet encompass a symbiotic relationship. If Internet access is available, that access helps to improve IT literacy; if IT literacy is high, Internet services tend to be used more effectively to a given groups advantage. Once this conditioned is realized and IT skills and infrastructure improve, a group can effectively use technology to its advantage, and the digital divide problem is mitigated. Theres no denying that Internet access and effective use of technology was hindered when a specific group lacked the infrastructure needed to connect. Modarres (2011) acknowledged that a 1995 National Telecommunications and Information Administration report determined that minority groups wanted to access the Internet, but many lacked the infrastructure

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE to do so. Obviously ensuring adequate equipment and infrastructure is a major consideration when addressing the digital divide; but now over ten years later, a more multi-dimensional approach is needed when addressing persistent factors hindering effective use of modern technologies such as the Internet and Internet-based services. Research has demonstrated the digital divide is a complex issue one that goes beyond the simple lack of equipment. As Ferro, Helbig, and Gil-Garcia (2011) noted, a more holistic approach is needed when addressing current issues permitting the digital divide to persist.

Cultural, socioeconomic, and cognitive factors must all be considered when policy makers strive to ensure all groups can leverage technology effectively. As these three researchers pointed out, considering that Internet use has become a fundamental factor affecting the economic well-being of people everywhere, special care must be taken to factor in more than just having the equipment needed for Internet access. To that end, companies such as Google can do their part by providing multi-language sites to accommodate non-English speaking. Other initiatives can also be enacted such as charitable donations of equipment and services to groups that have historically been excluded due to the digital divide. Doing so will help ensure equal access to technology and the benefits it provides. 4. Implementation Issues With Technology Googles Linux-based Android Smartphone strategy has resulted in mixed results for the company. Linux is a freely available open-source operating system that competes with Microsoft Windows Server and proprietary UNIX operating systems. Google, as the leading internet search engine, has been attempting to leverage its successful web presence by challenging the Apple iPhone. Instead of developing its own mobile device operating system, as

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE Apple did with the iPod/iPhone iOS, Google decided to use the popular Linux open-source operating system as the basis for its new mobile device strategy. The Android Linux strategy provided many benefits to Google. First, Google was trying

to play catch up with Apple. Apple has spent years developing and refining its iOS since the first iPod was introduced. Google had the choice to either buy an operating system from another vendor, or spend possibly years developing its own operating system. By adopting Linux as its operating system, Google was able to reduce the time need to introduce the Android smart phone to the market. Because Linux is well established in commercial companies and universities, finding developers is relatively easy. The availability of developers, program documentation, and developer tools cuts the time for market for any product built on the Linux operating system. As the Linux operating system is mature, it provides a platform that is very stable and secure. If Google had developed its own operating system, the security risks would be higher. Further, if a security flaw had been discovered after the new smart phone went to market, Google might risk not only its new product, but also its reputation as a technology leader. Fortunately, Linux is one of the most widely adopted operating systems, and security issues that arise are quickly discovered and fixed. Many commercial companies have migrated to Linux for their computing infrastructure because of its stability and security. (Gedda, 2006). One area where Google has experienced difficulty regarding Linux based Android is with the Linux licensing model. Linux is licensed by the GNU General Public License (GPL). (Free Software Foundation, 2007) The GPL states that any changes made to GPL licensed code must be given back to the user community. Many in the Linux community are now claiming that Google used Linux code in the Android, modified some of the code, and is refusing to publish the changes made as required per the GPL. (Brodkin, 2011). If these allegations prove to be true,

GOOGLE: A PERSPECTIVE this could potentially result in lawsuits against Google. If the Linux user community brings a lawsuit against Google, the software giant may be forced to halt development of its Android


platform. In a worst case scenario, Google could even be forced to pull Android from the market place. Besides Google, third party software vendors writing software for the Android platform could be affected. This would hurt Googles relationship with software vendors it needs to continue to grow its business. Google now finds itself in a situation where it must continue to develop its Linux based Android operating system, while resolving the licensing issues with the GPL. As Google has now branded the Android as the Google smart phone, it cant abandon the platform without both killing a growing revenue stream, and damaging its reputation as a leader in emerging technologies. It appears that Google and the Linux user communities are attempting to work out the licensing issues. (Vaughan-Nichols, 2011). The Linux developer community wants its product to continue to gain acceptance in both the server and desktop markets, and also become the leading embedded operating system in smart devices. Google also appears committed to resolving any license issues regarding its use of Linux. The Google and Linux relationship demonstrates how a commercial company can leverage existing free software in developing a commercial product. Assuming that any licensing issues are worked out, this could become a model for commercial development of new devices and services. Companies could develop partnerships with the Linux developer community or other free software projects. This model allows commercial software vendors to quickly develop a product or service that gives value to the consumer without the expenditure of the resources required to develop a proprietary operating system. 5. Conclusion



The internet has diminished the cost and increased the rate of data transfer. This new way of thinking has changed the economic landscape, permitting new and exciting ways to do business differently from traditional economic models. Through research and comparison with other firms, we have focused our attention on Google as a unique type of corporation. Google began as a way to organize and make the internet accessible to everyone. Over time, this endeavor got enough economic attention which generated considerable financial benefit by charging the traffic to its pages through advertisement of products tailored to the viewers. By continuing to offer products and services through the internet, Google has an online community of faithful users who continue to return to its economy networks such as Google Search engine, Gmail and Android Market.

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Brian Womack. (2011). Google Gains U.S. Search Market Share in October, Comscore Says. Retrieved from http://www.businessweek.com/news/2011-11-10/google-gains-u-s-search-market-sharein-october-comscore-says.html ComScore (2011). Press Release: comScore Reports July 2011 U.S. Mobile Subscriber Market Share. Retrieved from http://www.comscore.com/Press_Events/Press_Releases/2011/8/comScore_Reports_July_ 2011_U.S._Mobile_Subscriber_Market_Share/ Ferro, E., Helbig, N.C., Gil-Garcia, R. (2011). The Role of IT Literacy in Defining Digital Divide Policy Needs. Government Information Quarterly, 283-10. doi:10.1016/j.giq.2010.05.0078 Experian Hitwise. (2011). Main Data Center Top 10 sites and engines. Retrieved from http://www.hitwise.com/us/datacenter/main/dashboard-23984.html Free Software Foundation. (2007). GNU Operating System. Retrieved from http://www.gnu.org/copyleft/gpl.html Gedda, R. (2006). Manufacturer moves to Linux for stability. Computer World Retrieved From: http://www.computerworld.com.au/article/153880/manufacturer_moves_linux_stability/ Google (n.d.) Business Overview. Retrieved From: http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/corporate/company/business.html Google (n.d.). Corporate Information. Retrieved From: http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/corporate/company/ Google (n.d.). Our Philosophy. Retrieved From: http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/corporate/company/tenthings.html Google (n.d.). Products. Retrieved From: http://www.google.com/intl/en/about/products/index.html

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Kim, Y. (2011). UPDATE: Google to Build Three Data Centers in Asia, Investment To Exceed $200M. Retrieved from: http://online.wsj.com/article/BT-CO-20110928-700133.html Modarres, A. (2011) Beyond the Digital Divide. National Civic Review, 100(3), 4-7. doi:10.1002/ncr.20069 Pandia, (2007). Google: one million servers and counting. Retrieved From: http://www.pandia.com/sew/481-gartner.html Shankland, S. (2008). Google Spotlights Data Center Inner Workings. Retrieved from http://news.cnet.com/8301-10784_3-9955184-7.html Vaughan-Nichols, S.J. (2011). Android Linux FUD Debunked. Retrieved from http://www.zdnet.com/blog/open-source/android-linux-fud-debunked/8549 Wall, A.(n.d). History of Search Engines: From 1945 to Google Today. The Atlantic Online. Retrieved from http://www.searchenginehistory.com/ Whitt, R. (2010). Facts about our network neutrality policy proposal. Retrieved from: http://googlepublicpolicy.blogspot.com/2010/08/facts-about-our-network-neutrality.html