Google Inc. is an American multinational internet and software corporation, and is currently (2012) probably one of the best known brands on the planet. The Google search engine is currently the number one search engine in the world. As well as its flag ship product, its search engine, Google is also involved in cloud computing and advertising technologies, and in recent years has become heavily involved in the mobile / cell phone market due to its Android operating system.
Google was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 4, 1998, and its initial public offering followed on August 19, 2004. At that time Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Eric Schmidt agreed to work together at Google for twenty years, until the year 2024. The company's mission statement from the outset was "to organize the world's information and make it universally accessible and useful", and the company's unofficial slogan - coined by Google engineer Amit Patel and supported by Paul Buchheit - is "Don't be evil". In 2006, the company moved to its current headquarters in Mountain View, California.
Since its incorporation, Google's growth has been rapid, triggering a chain of products, acquisitions, and partnerships beyond the company's core web search engine. The company offers online productivity software, such as the Gmail email service, the Google Docs office suite, and the Google+ social networking service. As well as this, Google's products extend to the desktop, with applications such as the Google Chrome web browser, the Picasa photo organizing and editing software, and the Google Talk instant messaging application. Google leads the development of the Android mobile operating system, as well as the Google Chrome OS browser-only operating system, found on specialized laptops called Chromebooks.
It is estimated that Google runs over one million servers in various data centers around the world, and processes over one billion search requests and about twenty-four petabytes of user-generated data every day. According to Alexa, google.com is currently (December 2011) listed as the Internet's most visited website, with numerous international Google sites (google.co.in is the most visited site in India, google.co.uk in the U.K, and so on) listed in the top 100, as are several other Google-owned sites such as YouTube (Alexa:3 as of December 2011), Blogger and its related subdomain blogspot.com (Alexa:7 as of December 2011). The dominant market position of Google's services has led to criticism of the company over issues including privacy, copyright, and censorship.
Google began life in January 1996 as a research project by Larry Page and Sergey Brin when they were both PhD students at Stanford University in California. The original Google homepage had a very simple design due to its founders not being experienced in HTML, the language for designing web pages.
While conventional search engines ranked results by counting how many times the search terms appeared on the page (which is why keyword packing became so popular!), Page and Brin theorized about a better system that analyzed the relationships between websites. They called this new technology PageRank, where a website's relevance was determined by the number of pages, and the importance of those pages, that linked back to the original site.
A small search engine called "RankDex" from IDD Information Services designed by Robin Li was, since 1996, already exploring a similar strategy for site-scoring and page ranking. The technology in RankDex would be patented and used later when Li founded Baidu in China.
Page and Brin originally nicknamed their new search engine "BackRub", because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. Eventually, they changed the name to Google, originating from a misspelling of the word "googol", the number one followed by one hundred zeros, which was picked to signify that the search engine wants to provide large quantities of information for people. Originally, Google ran under the Stanford University website, with the domain google.stanford.edu.
The domain name for Google was registered on September 15, 1997, and the company was incorporated on September 4, 1998. It was based in a friend's (Susan Wojcicki) garage in Menlo Park, California. Craig Silverstein, a fellow PhD student at Stanford, was hired as the first employee. The rest, as they say, is history.
In May 2011, unique visitors of Google surpassed 1 billion mark for the first time. This represented an 8.4 percent increase in traffic over the previous year when there had been 931 million unique visitors in May.
The Android Mobile Operating System
Android is an operating system created for mobile devices, for example, smartphones and tablet computers. It is developed by the Open Handset Alliance, which is led by Google.
February 2012: Google's bid for Motorola Given Go-ahead
On February 14th, 2012, European and US regulators have approved Google's $12.5bn (£7.9bn) bid for US phone maker Motorola Mobility, but approval from China, Taiwan and Israel is needed before the deal is completed.
In 2011, Motorola split into two companies, prompting Google to bid for the section that makes phones and tablet computers in an attempt to gain access to more than 17,000 of Motorola Mobility's patents.
May 2012: Google's bid for Motorola Given Chinese Approval
Google's $12.5bn (£7.9bn) purchase of US phone maker Motorola Mobility has been approved by Chinese regulators.
Chinese authorities said Google must keep its mobile software, Android, free for other device makers for up to five years.
Google has already won clearance from US and European regulators (see above).
The purchase helps clear the way for Google to move into the manufacturing of phones and tablet computers.
You can find out more about Google and its history here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Google.