Eleven years ago, Larry Page and Sergey Brin founded Google with a search engine and a plan. Now their company has grown into an online behemoth battling head-to-head with industry giant Microsoft while the term Google is a verb that means Internet search.
Obviously, a lot has changed for the company and its founders since Sept. 27, 1998.
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Google celebrated its anniversary this year quietly, doing little more than changing the famed doodle on its search page from the usual Google to Goog11e.
But whether it celebrates its birthday or not, Google is one of the great Internet success stories to date. The company not only owns the search market with a share of more than 64 percent, it has branched out over the years with its hosted Google Apps applications like Gmail along with Google Maps, Google Earth, and other products.
More recently, Google has moved to take on Microsoft and its widely used Internet Explorer in the browser business, and even disclosed plans this summer to develop an alternative to the Windows operating system. Just yesterday, Google announced plans to release an early version of its Google Wave collaboration tool to 100,000 users and developers for testing.
"I would say Google is the most influential Web company out there," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst with Technology Business Research. "It's rare to have a company grow like that, but we've seen others. It's just that the others either flamed out, were acquired or haven't yet reached a sustainable state. Look at Netscape, MySpace, Twitter, Youtube, and Facebook."
Caroline Dangson, an analyst with IDC, noted that in a survey undertaken by the research firm last year, Google was easily the top consumer brand.
"We have found that with consumer surveys, [Google] is the number one consumer brand," she added. "We conducted a survey including Yahoo, MSN, eBay, Amazon ... different consumer Web properties. Google was number one for all of our questions, from 'How much do you like the brand?' to 'How much do you use the brand?' to 'How much do you trust the brand?' There are few companies that are able to grow and dominate in this way."