What is Google? A Search Engine

October 11, 2006 at 11:27 pm (Companies, Internet, US)

The New York Times raised a very good question on Google’s recent acquisition of YouTube: Should Google integrate YouTube and risk losing one of the hottest brands on the Internet, or leave YouTube independent and risk diluting its own powerful brand?

The search engine overlord has made more than 15 major acquisitions in areas as diverse as blogging,personalized search, satellite imagery, image management and cellular phone technology, the newspaper said.

The Google sprawl didn’t make the founders happy. Rather it made users confused. And new products one-level down from the home page drew far less attention and traffic than Google would be comfortable with.

According to Alexa, a Web information company, 72 percent of those who use google do so to search from its home page. Another 10 percent use it for e-mail and 8 percent for its Web-based image search. Video has been a straggler, at 3 percent, the newspaper said.

But with the stable of talent that Google has built, why not develop its own YouTube?

Its engineering teams have, after all, created services, including Google Calendar, Mail and Spreadsheet as well as language translation technology built into Google’s search engine. More than a dozen services — including Google Video, Google Maps and Google Desktop Search — have come from the company’s advanced research arm, Google Labs.

But those creations are complemented, if not overshadowed, by its acquisitions. Still, except for Google Earth, not one has become an unqualified success or market leader.

Moreover, with the exception of advertising-related technology acquisitions, Google has yet to develop significant revenue streams from its acquisitions. Its Picasa image management program allows users to purchase photo prints, and the company sells a commercial version of Google Earth for $400, but neither of those are major businesses yet.

YouTube is different from Google’s previous acquisitions not because it has a proven business model — it does not — but because it comes with an established audience (read the full news story).

 

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