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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

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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

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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

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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.


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.

What do you think?

Avatar of James Mowery

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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