Google is the world’s most popular Internet search engine. It is a position that has earned Google huge profits and given it outsize influence over the online world.
As a company, Google aims high. But its ambition far exceeds the confines of Internet search and advertising. The company, based in Menlo Park, Calif., sees its mission as the organization of the world’s information, making it universally accessible and useful.
It has built a powerful network of data centers around the globe in hopes of, among other things, connecting users instantly with high-resolution satellite pictures of every corner of the earth and sky; making the entire text of books, in and out of print, available online; and becoming the leading distributor of online video through YouTube, which it acquired in 2006.
Google Glasses: Seeing Virtual Reality
Later in 2012, Google is expected to start selling eyeglasses that will project information, entertainment and, this being a Google product, advertisements onto the lenses. The glasses are not being designed to be worn constantly — although Google engineers expect some users will wear them a lot — but will be more like smartphones, used when needed, with the lenses serving as a kind of see-through computer monitor.
And it has built an array of online software programs, including e-mail, word processing and spreadsheets, that it hopes will become the building blocks of a new paradigm of web-based “cloud’’ computing — one that, unlike the Microsoft-dominated PC world, will have Google at its center.
Adding Social Networking to Search: Privacy Issues
In early January 2012, Google sparked controversy when it made some of the biggest changes ever to its search results, adding content from its fledgling Google Plus social network. That includes posts, photos, profiles and conversations from Google Plus that are public or were shared privately with the person searching. The new feature is called Search Plus Your World.
Top-Secret Idea Lab
The future is being imagined at the company’s top-secret lab, called Google X, in an undisclosed Bay Area location.
At the clandestine lab, Google is tackling a list of 100 shoot-for-the-stars ideas. Among the dreams being pursued: a refrigerator that could be connected to the Internet, so it could order groceries when they ran low; a dinner plate that could post what you’re eating to a social network; a robot that could go to the office while you stay home in your pajamas; or an elevator to outer space.
Google is so secretive about the lab that many employees do not even know it exists. Sergey Brin, Google’s co-founder, is deeply involved in the lab, said several people with knowledge of it, and came up with the list of ideas along with Larry Page, Google’s other founder, who worked on Google X before becoming chief executive in April; Eric E. Schmidt, its chairman; and other top executives. “Where I spend my time is farther afield projects, which we hope will graduate to important key businesses in the future,” Mr. Brin said recently, though he did not mention Google X.