This week Google celebrates its 25 year-birthday and during that period the company has grown into a juggernaut that knows and stores everything about us, and is present everywhere. In a series of articles, we will discuss the power of Google, the success factors, the growing criticism and Google’s prospects for the coming years.

Part 1 of this series further explores how Google became the dominant company it is today.

How did Google become so powerful?

There are several factors why Google has become so powerful, but the most important factor is that it has moved with the times. The growth of the Internet, the desire and ability to get immediate answers to questions and the rapid growth of the mobile phone have all made a significant contribution to Google’s success. But Google has responded cleverly and has made optimal use of the possibilities offered, thanks to the following:

1. The best search engine. Google’s success is of course largely due to the fact that Google’s search engine is so good. Google’s algorithm provides appropriate answers to the questions users ask the search engine. That’s the basis. If a search engine does not provide satisfactory answers, it is not used.

2. Smart advertising system. But in addition, Google has linked a very smart advertising system to its search engine. The advertisements that users see match the user’s keywords. And Google knows how to monetize these advertisements well, the more popular a keyword, the more advertisers have to pay.

3. Better every time. And it is a self-learning system; With every search query the system knows a little more about the user, about how people search and what they are looking for. The system is therefore continuously getting better and can therefore predict better which advertisements will be successful. Now that AI is also being used, this system will only become even better. Not only have we learned a lot from Google, Google has also learned a lot about us.

4. Exclusivity. Fourth, Google paid, and continues to pay, a lot of money to be installed exclusively as the default search engine on phones and tablets. Samsung and Apple, for example, receive enormous amounts of money (tens of billions annually) to install Google as the default search engine. This can only be removed with a lot of effort, and Google thus benefits from the tendency of users to continue doing what they are used to and not switch. Partly because of this, Google has become the dominant search engine in the world.

5. Giving away for free. Another successful way to grow is Google’s tactic of giving away products ‘for free’ in exchange for some data. Schools and universities can use Google products for free, but are then tied to them, the so-called ‘vendor lock-in’. It is very difficult to switch to another supplier (and the suppliers deliberately do not make this very easy). And the pupils and students are now used to working with Google products, they no longer want other products…

6. Ruthless competition. But, especially after 2010, Google has also entered into a tough battle with the competition. Competitors were systematically disadvantaged in the search results. Various legal cases were brought about this, which vindicated the competitors, but by then it was too late and Google already dominated the market. Copyright was also violated because Google believed that the content of all books in the world should be available free of charge to all internet users. This has led to the current form of the Internet: a system that allows indexing and the use of thumbnail images without payment, but ignores the intellectual property of authors…

7. Lobby. And finally, Google has a huge lobby and very deep pockets. A lot of money goes to lobbyists and lawyers, and lawsuits are dragged out for a long time. But for Google, the fines imposed are small change, and the countless lobbyists still manage to limit the consequences of all kinds of legislation about Big Tech.

In short, there seems to be no end to Google’s omnipotence anytime soon, because it will do everything it can to keep it that way. But who knows what developments await us. And maybe the new Google is even being formed today?

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