This is potentially dangerous. With the possible number of
visitors per month resembling the population of five average
European countries, Google’s power to influence economies—even
governments--is frightening. So far, Google’s founders,
Larry Page and Sergey Brin, have stayed out of politics, but
what would happen if that changed?
Page and Brin launched the search engine Google.com in 1998
with the intention of taking search engines to a different
level. By optimizing already known technology, Brin and Page
created a more accurate, fair, but most importantly, faster
search engine than ever seen before. Everybody loved it. Its
stylistic, advertising-free design seemed to charm grandmas
as well as avid computer hackers.
Google’s popularity hasn’t stagnated. With record
revenues of more than $1 billion for the quarter ended Dec.
31, 2004, and an average of 81.9 million visitors every month,
Google is the fourth most popular site on the Web today.
With success came skeptics. Two things that Google has been
criticized for are, ironically, the same things that made them
popular in the first place. The first thing is their irregularity
when it comes to advertising. Brin and Page refuses to advertise
cigarette brands or alcohol on Google, despite the revenue
these would generate. On the other hand, pornography sites
are frequently advertised without, apparently, a second thought.
The second aspect is Google’s page-ranking system, which
determines the order in which Web sites will show up in key
word search results.
Brin and Page’s concept was simple; put the most important
Web sites on top. But who decides what’s important? According
to Page, the one who decides is Brin. This is an aspect seldom
thought of, but it can also make or break any Internet-based
company. If a company were on top of the list for a period
of time, and then all of a sudden fell down to, let’s
say, the fifth page, the number of visitors would fall, not
just a little, but dramatically.
If a company selling computers over the Internet has been on
the first page when the key word “computers” is
entered, it’s likely to have a large bank account. The
number of visitors on its site would be perhaps 10,000 per
day. An accepted Internet sales equation says that approximately
one percent of all visitors will end up buying one or more
of this company’s products. It doesn’t take a math
genius to figure out that those numbers will generate a solid
income. However, if a company is on the seventh page it might,
if lucky, have 15-20 visitors a day and one percent of that
won’t keep it afloat.
With that in mind, think about what could happen if Page and
Brin were interested in politics. They could, without effort,
reach more than 80 million people every month until election