To label Google merely a search engine is like calling WalMart a dry goods store. Over 75 percent of all web searchers find their way on Google, with Yahoo, then MSN trailing a far second and third. Founded only nine years ago by Larry Page and Sergey Brin, this indisputable giant, Google, has seen its proper-noun name transformed into a popular verb.
Investors are awed by this global newcomer’s $10.6 billion in annual sales, netting over $3 billion in profits. Googlers are amazed almost weekly by yet another new, user friendly service Google proffers them. Everything from stock profiles on the Chinese market to the contents of your local library can be found with a few clicks from “Google Search.” Yet veteran academician and computer consultant Joel May likens Google to our human brains, in that even the most adventuresome probably only use 10 percent of its capacity. May keeps a prospectors eye on Google, ever mining fresh, new web services from Google’s seemingly endless proliferation.
* Google Roadmap. Most of us just pull the “Google Search” from our default web page. But by actually Googling Google a wealth of small blue print options occur. At the page top, note the line of “Web,” “Video,” “News,” etc. Amidst the wealth of rock songs and movie trailers, “Video’s” selections recently included pieces about retail news and the cost of green cars. “Maps” provides locations and listings of everything from North American stock exchanges to various multi-location businesses. (It pays to get listed.) The “News” Business section gives minute-by-minute stock quotes and charts as well as all the latest wire news, showing literally real time what’s happening on the floor, around the globe. Viewers can also customize this news page.
The pull down menu “More” really means it. The Finance goes into further market depth and allows users to customize their portfolio for easy tracking. Clicking on Patents, makes available the plans of 7 million inventions onscreen.
* Advertising. Clicking on “Business Solutions” below the search line, leads directly to Google’s constantly evolving promotional techniques. AdWords allows a company’s keyword- targeted ad to pop into the right hand column. They even have a keyword guide to help set your ad so it coincides with the widest range of user searches. The one problem here, as with all pay per click ad formats, is that advertisers stand vulnerable to click fraud and Google offers little protection. Click fraud is a crime where an individual or even a computerized system, pretending to be a legitimate user, keeps clicking on a certain ad site and skyrockets the advertiser’s bill.
For online publishers and companies with substantial websites, Google’s AdSense targets specific pages and articles on the site and automatically feeds in related ads selected by the publisher. It filters out competitors’ ads or any program sought by the user. Those seeking to sell single items or product lines, can market them on Google’s eBay-style “Checkout.” The products tend to be a little less flea-market than eBay, and are often grouped by the type of company line.
* Info Toys & Tools. After “Gmail,” whose seemingly infinite mail storage and sorting capabilities have everyone signing up, Google Docs seems to be the most popular find. This free, simple swap and share service works with documents, spreadsheets, and a variety of presentations. Basically, an author creates his document onto a sort of private internet stage. He then lists e-mail addresses of the recipients who are to have access. This list may include coworkers, his laptop and/or his home computer. Every recipient may collaborate on the document; each recipient seeing the changes in real time. No extra steps, and it nixes attachments and swapping of flashdrives.
Along the lines of perhaps over-sharing, “Web Accelerator” offers a swifter way to access websites. The user’s web searches are compressed, logged in, and recorded so that they may be more easily gathered in the future. “This feels a little ripe for a potential privacy invasion,” notes May. “I’m not sure I want my every search recorded for, say, the government to pour over on a whim.” Similarly, Google’s Zeitgeist (now Hot Trends) came under fire for compiling data on what sites are popular, by amassing individual hit figures, unknown to the searchers. But the company adamantly states that no individual’s records are kept.
“If you have just landed in Buenos Aires to visit a friend, and you need a car to his house, and a bottle of wine as a gift, Simply whip out your cell phone and dial 1-800-GOOG411,” says May. This 800-466-4411 number lets you speak your demands into the phone. A list of taxi companies and a list of nearby wine shops are given. As you select one, you are connected. A map even comes over the screen so you can direct the driver. A great tool for locating area competition instantly, you can even receive a text message profile on each company.
In 2004, Google Apps was introduced as a small-business online aid. As of February 22, the company released Google Apps Premier Edition. This suite of office packages costing $50 per account, per year, many say, overwhelms Microsoft offerings. It includes Gmail and Webmail services, Google Talk with instant messaging and voice over IP, a page creator for websites, an array of spreadsheets, and interactive calendars. Personally, May is fond of the more seldom sought tricks. For example, Google AU / C - and the formula’s answer pops up: 1 astronomical Unit divided by the speed of light equals 8.31675359 minutes. Typing in “Thailand currency - Argentine currency” even without knowing Bhat or Peso, and Google gives the conversion rate.
Named originally for the googol - a mathematical term for 1 followed by 100 zeros, Google’s quest for the infinite shows no sign of slowing. To handle its billions of daily search queries, the ever-expanding company is constructing a new computing complex the size of two-football fields along the Columbia River, in the town of Dalles, Oregon. 13,000 resumes weekly flood into Google from hopefuls desperate to join its pampered, hard-laboring team. But the odds of being selected equal those of landing a draft pick in the NFL. For the 10,674 current lucky employees, both the challenges and the perks are, like everything else Google, enormous. And while some may claim that this mega-search engine has forgotten its more pure intentions, the company motto remains “Do no Evil.”
The pace of Google-driven change is indeed boggling. May admits that to search all the Google opportunities would leave time for little else. He himself searches Google Labs weekly for the latest offerings. But like a hardware store, its fun to browse through and nice to know all the tools are there. And who knows, you may even find the exact one meant for your business, or pleasure.
Joel May, first began using computers back in l961 and has continued to be an avid student of their ever-expanding capabilities. Son of a radio announcer, May grew up in in Hershey, Pennsylvania, and attended nearby Albright College in Reading, earning a B.S. in economics in l957. He then took his MBA and Ph.D. in economics and statistics from the University of Chicago, and stayed on as an instructor. In l977, he moved to the Garden State to teach at the School of Public Health at New Jersey’s University of Medicine and Dentistry. Later, he took on the presidency of the Health Research and Educational Trust in Princeton, until his retirement in l995. May’s first computer, “Was the size of the room and held a mere fraction of my current laptop,” he says. He began playing with the primitive, inter-academic internet in l974. ‘I’ll never forget a big discussion we had in our house in l979,” May recalls. “It was whether to get a VCR system or a PC. We opted for the PC.” For many years, until his retirement, May ran a computer consulting business. Today, May lectures frequently throughout the state and his talk “What You Don’t Know About Google” is always packed.
Article Summary From customized in depth financial analysis and office managing tools, to instant marketing and competition research, Google’s got an avalanche of new offerings. Learn from Joel May what new goodies and oft-forgotten oldies are now available to your computer, hand held, or even phone.