Imagining A World Without Google

Google. It is unquestionably one of the most well-known companies in the world. It has empowered everyday people with information and given online businesses reasons to exist. Most importantly, it has proven that free can be profitable. But all this has to make you wonder — what would have become of the world if Google didn’t exist?

There are so many potential questions that could be asked. Could Microsoft have actually ended up in a worse position than it is today? Would Apple have gone bankrupt? Perhaps Yahoo! could have ended up as the most powerful company in the world? Would the Internet be anything like it is today?

 

Yahoo! Without Google

You can’t go through this scenario without considering Yahoo, previously one of Google’s biggest competitors, which is now hardly a blip on the radar anymore.

Yahoo had it all: the money, the user-base, the functionality. And all it really needed was a vision and the leadership to act upon it to reach success.

If Google had never existed, it is entirely possible that Jerry Yang and his bunch of Yahoos could have gotten their acts together to expand and dominate the Web. It is quite possible that it would be Yahoo — not Microsoft or Google — that would be the most influential powerhouse on the Internet.

Yet it’s almost impossible to imagine what direction Jerry Yang would have taken the company. These past few years haven’t produced images of prosperity, that is for sure.

It also doesn’t address the issue that, even with fierce competition in their way, Yahoo never made any drastic moves to better itself. Even to this very day, Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz can’t even explain what her company does. This makes me believe that, even if Google didn’t exist, another company would have come along and challenged Yahoo, and they might have been successful in their endeavors.

Perhaps Yahoo’s destiny was already set in stone.

 

Microsoft Without Google

If Google is the light at the end of the tunnel, Microsoft is the dark spaces in between — it’s all around yet it can’t be seen. Indeed, Microsoft has seen better days.

Yet without Google in the way, maybe Microsoft could have had its way. The resurgence of open source software might not have come to be. Adoption of Windows-based operating systems would still be stronger than ever. Desktop software still could have been as crucial as it was only a decade ago. Furthermore, Microsoft would have surely have innovated in online advertising and in the cloud space, all while reaping in billions.

Microsoft and Yahoo would have battled it out for online supremacy, with Bing never becoming a factor.

Unfortunately, the entire web would have suffered for this. The advancement in online technologies, services, software-as-a-service, and other developments in the past years might not have come as rapidly as they have with the help of companies like Google — which had the drive to really innovate — while existing companies really sat back and watched the money roll in.

Thankfully, we do have an abundance of Web-based applications, which was clearly an arena Microsoft was never prepared to do battle in. Even Google has had its online suite of applications for years, while Microsoft has only just released their online versions of Word and other productivity apps in the past few months (which will be an interesting development to watch unfold).

But it is obvious that, while Microsoft and Google are competing, Google has been lenient towards Microsoft. Google avoided Microsoft’s turf for so long. For years, people have been calling for Google to create an operating system to crush Microsoft Windows, yet only recently has that happened with the development of Chrome OS, the Chrome browser, and Android. And, as previously mentioned, Google could have pushed harder with their online productivity apps.

So ultimately, in this world of cutthroat competition, Microsoft has been quite fortunate that Google hasn’t piled on the pressure, as some serious damage could have been done.

But could you imagine if some other form of competition (other than Google) had stepped up to take on Microsoft? What if they weren’t as lenient as Google? Maybe another up-and-coming competitor would have had it out for Microsoft. Maybe — just maybe — Microsoft owes its continued dominance in the PC market in part to Google’s mercy. What an interesting thought that is.

 

Apple Without Google

But you can’t write a tech-related article these days without mentioning Apple. This all has to make people wonder about what sort of an impact Google has had on Apple’s success and what the present might have looked like if Google wasn’t around.

Instead of Microsoft having to only keep Apple away from its market share, it has had to deal with Google as well. While Microsoft was sitting on the sidelines in disarray — attempting to get a grip on the Internet’s growth — Apple pushed forward and innovated. It eventually became a reality for people to abandon Microsoft’s ecosystem for something else entirely. Of course, Apple was there to capitalize.

Regardless, now Apple is a powerhouse that is dominating markets that Microsoft should have been conquering.

But we can’t forget that Apple and Google teamed up to create some amazing applications for the iPhone. Without Google Maps, YouTube integration, and the general emphasis of Web-based services, the iPhone might not have been born (it’s a disturbing thought to think that we would have been left with BlackBerry and Windows Mobile devices).

That said, it is quite ironic that Apple and Google are no longer seeing eye to eye. It could prove costly to both companies in the future.

 

Empowerment

But if you want to know the most important thing we would have missed if Google didn’t exist, you need not look any further than the flourishing communities and businesses we have on the Web today.

Google empowered people and businesses on the Internet, and it did this more so than any other company I can think of. It has given people the platforms to voice their opinions, share their lives, and profit from their ventures. Self employment is also more common than ever. Google has helped to make this possible.

 

Back To Reality: Crucial Times

Thankfully, we do have Google around to keep things moving forward. The company, for the most part, takes consumer interests to heart.

But now comes a crucial time when Google is going to head to head with new issues.

Social networking just so happens to be one of those issues, and it a big one. As other companies (like Facebook and Twitter) establish and build out flourishing social networks ripe with content, information, and attention, Google is left on the bench — seemingly in disarray — and unable to create a product to compete. Buzz was a decent attempt, but releasing an unfinished product to the world that not only felt bare but caused massive privacy issues wasn’t the way to go about doing it, and I don’t think Buzz will recover from this poor first impression.

It also doesn’t help that Google has had a horrible track record when it comes to social media and social networking. It just keeps getting worse.

Another issue centers around Google’s advertising empire: the quality isn’t there. More people are becoming immune to AdSense advertising. As the sheer quantity of advertisements increase, the quality steadily decreases, and this is causing everyone to lose out on opportunity. It’s really not that difficult to imagine another platform coming along and stealing the show as it previously was.

And then there is always the worry of complacency — we need not look any further than Microsoft and Yahoo for the perfect examples. Can Google keep innovating, even though the company’s scope is constantly widening? It’s a tough call, but we remain hopeful.

So, in the end, appreciate all that Google has given us. We are spoiled with free information, content, and entertainment. None of this might have come to be without Google’s vision and leadership.

Written by James Mowery

James Mowery is a passionate technology journalist and entrepreneur who has written for various top-tier publications like Mashable and CMSWire. Follow him on Twitter: @JMowery.
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Comments
  • http://www.lovelytech.com/ Ashok

    really a wonderful article,, it is very difficult to live without google, but sure there will be some companies will replace google, the best example is china,, they removed google from the country and now in china baidu is playing role of google.. even peoples likes it..

    the last thing you said is great,, if there is no google, there won’t be any self employment,,

    • HowLeeWould

      That’s far from truth.I am a Chinese, and at the day google pulled out China mainland I blocked Baidu by hosts mod.There are subcultures out there hate Baidu, everyone with some insights know this asshole is a badass, and it’s doomed to fall.

    • http://valenteonline.com Marco

      Totally agree with the online empowerment, Google has given us netizens. I couldn’t imagine running my business on anything else but Google apps which practically kills any other online enterprise solution

  • James D Tabbert

    Good stuff.
    I can’t help to wonder if it’s not just a matter of ‘leniency’ on the part of Google going easy on Microsoft.
    It is in their best interests, I believe to let the OS race be primarily between the propriety ones.
    Both OSx and Windows users use their products after all.
    Google Chrome took a much bugger dent out of FireFox’s user base then it did Explorer’s, and I wouldn’t be surprised if the same would hold true with Chrome OS and popular Linux Distros.

    I love chrome and haven’t looked back. It LOOKS incredible on my desktop and is responsive and intuitive. Google loves to release buggy betas though…
    Chrome was a nightmare the first 6 months.
    ChromeBuntu Anyone?

  • Lou Veen

    Dud,e without Google, the world would stop spinning!

    Lou

  • Rageedy

    You are very good in stating the obvious.

  • http://www.freecreditreportsinstantly.org/ Helly

    With incredible difficulty, many people (GASP!) grew up without Google. Thanks to the lack of planning by our parents, we had to do searches and business the old fashioned way. Yes, we survived without Google all those years. However, I don’t want to return back to that ugly way of living. :-)

  • http://www.hghtruth.org/ Jones

    “Google. It is unquestionably the most well-known company throughout the world.”

    I thought Coca Cola was the most well-known company around the world?

  • http://www.oneworldtosee.com/ Roger

    I´ve also grown up with google. I can hardly remember the time when I had the only chance to visit a webpage by knowing its exact name.. (that wasn´t that easy since I was very young, when the internet came up and google wasn´t existent.)

  • http://sites.google.com/a/som-itsolutions.com/som-itsolutions/Home Somenath

    One aspect of google is that its a great democratizing tool… it has democratized the knowledge and information which were once only in the hands of few people… being a software developer i can say that whatever related to software i have learnt so far is because of Google… and i think there is a whole new knowledge seeking generation that has been developed just because of Google… Jay ho Google…

  • http://www.nds-gear.co.uk R4i

    If only there was a world without Google! YouTube would be its own company as well. Notice how Google only buys successful companies rather than developing good things by themselves?

    • http://www.www.com empT3

      Youtube was a successful website, not a successful company when it started. It wasn’t until long after google purchased that it was figured out how to monetize it and turn a profit. In fact part of the reason why youtube can turn a profit at all is because Google’s Datacenter and infrastructure technology is so far ahead of anyone else’s. People tend to think that innovation only occurs in what you can see, hold or use when the really powerful, game-changing kind of things happen in the background where very broad changes start.

  • http://www.teknoguru.com Teknoguru

    This is a good article. thanks.

    Obviously if you don’t step forward, someone else will do.

  • http://www.newageparadise.com shiho

    without google, the world isn’t going to develop like what we’re seeing now

  • http://www.nixle.com Demensi

    Nice, interesting article. Social networking does seem to be the biggest threat to Google’s dominance. That and location specific sites that utilize social networking, companies like Nixle (www.nixle.com) and others are rapidly cornering this market. I just read an article about them here:

    http://www.inc.com/magazine/20100501/elevator-pitch-nixle.html

    These are the dangers to Google. They have to either gobble them up, the “Google Gobble,” or create something that directly competes. These sites are creating user spaces with specialized information streams that Google cannot possibly compete with in its present form.

  • http://www.cargo-carriers.co.cc/ cargo carriers

    yup, the world would have ended the next day if google wasn’t formed. This article is so much more relevant then “Imagining A World Without Electricity” or “Imagine if Penicillin wasn’t invented.”. I can live without electricity or medicine, but google, I can’t “imagine”. It might be because I end up googling everything and brain has stopped working.

  • http://www.specialimages.co.uk/blog/ Corporate photographer London

    google has changed its indexing to take into account social networking on websites- this shows it is seeing the importance of twitter, and might have another bash at getting the social ideas going. Grant