In terms of the Internet environment, the noughties were dominated by one company, Google. But will this decade be any different?
Google have laid their cards on the table pretty early in this new decade (okay, officially it’s not actually the new decade yet, but for all intents and purposes…) unveiling their brand new smartphone, the Google Nexus. Chrome, their Internet browser is now the third most popular (just ahead of rival, Apple) and Google Goggles looks set to revolutionise mobile search. Not bad after just over a week.
However, it’s not all plain sailing. The French Government have announced that they intend to tax online advertising in the country, worth an estimated £720 million, taking vital revenue from Google as well as their rivals. Of course that is only a proposal, but it does perhaps highlight a potential fallibility in the search giant; along with the somewhat lukewarm reception for their Nexus phone from industry professionals, maybe Google are aiming too high and 2010 might be the year that their rivals close in.
At this stage though it is all just conjecture, the Nexus could become the biggest selling phone, the French government and others like it might give up on taking a slice out of the Google pie and Wave could become the next big thing. What Google has on its side are size, brand recognition and plenty of money. It is a brand that has steadily developed throughout the end of the last millennium and snowballed throughout the noughties. Their innovation online is almost unsurpassed; even those companies that do manage to produce something unique and interesting (take YouTube as an example) are eventually gobbled up and added to the ever-expanding Google family.
With conjecture still firmly in mind, what could the future be for search engines and, more particularly, the one at the very top of the heap?
When it comes to search innovation, we all tend to look out for Google. Microsoft and their Bing search engine have been doing some impressive things of late, but they still struggle to match the muscle of Google – even if/when they join up with Yahoo. This year we can look forward to Wave going global and seeing what impact, if any, that has on the way we communicate and socialise online. Clearly they’re also focusing a fair amount of attention on the expanding mobile market, not only because of Nexus and their Android operating system, but due to their purchase of AdMob [see: Google Invest in Mobile Advertising with Purchase of AdMob] and their (Android only) Goggles package.
So whilst potential governmental taxation could prove a thorn in their side, Google have enough irons in the fire to optimise their own dominance (and profits).
It would take a brave person to suggest that the way we interact with search engines and the Internet won’t change over the next 10 years. Just a quick glance at the past decade in which we saw the staggering spread of social media, the growing portability of the Internet and of course Google’s own rise to prominence – including a spread from just a search engine to a full software developer and communications company. Intuitive semantic search is almost certainly the next major leap forward; however, there will almost certainly be dozens of tiny steps in the mean time.
So, will Google still be the dominant search engine and technology company come 2020? How will people be using the Internet in a decade, will we even search at all? With the PPC market increasing and Google’s own domination of the field of search, they look well set for the next couple of years at least, any further than that and your moving into the realms of pure guesstimation and clairvoyance. It’s an exciting future and, for the time being at least, Google look set to play a key part in the innovations we can look forward to