Businesses and individuals have never been more dependent on Google. Are we now seeing them start to capitalise on their monopoly?
With over 90% of the search market in most markets, they dominate the way we find products and services, and monetising this by getting business to 'bid' for ad space has made them one of the biggest businesses in the world. In the old days (!) this used to be Google's only form of income; that and a few hardware boxes they sold to bigger business to perform 'internal search solutions'.
Over the years this cash has been used to 'give' us loads of free services. Can you remember the first time you saw Maps? Satellite View? Street View? And thought 'How do they do that? For FREE?'.
So much has been taken for granted over the years; Youtube and Google Music (recently launched in the UK) entertains us; Google Apps (and docs) allows business to operate without paying for Bill Gates' art collection; and the ever-improving Android OS is actually seeing even designers migrating across from Apple because they hate the constraints of the iOS system and iTunes. See a full list of the services here: http://www.google.co.uk/intl/en/about/products/
Could it be though, that Google is starting to realise some of its investment? Recently, we've seen...
- increases in storage prices for individuals (from 'almost free' to a still competitive fee);
- the cessation of 'free' Google Apps (Office Software) for small business;
- charging for Google Maps that could affect even medium-weight websites;
- charging for Google Merchant listings (aka Google Shopping/Google Base/Froogle) - a service that previously allowed well organised smaller shops to compete on a level playing field with the big boys. No more, as of this year - that's going to 'paid inclusion' in the UK.
Is this anything to worry about? Depends on your level of exposure; it's probably worth, even for the sake of curiosity doing a 'Gaudit' on your personal and business life, and work out how much you're enmeshed with the machine in Mountain View, California.....