Google, perhaps more than any other site, has become a utility in our lives. This has endeared it to advertisers and created a powerful marketing medium. Even as the world awaits its IPO, estimates are that Google’s revenues will rise more than 2.5 times to USD 750 million this year, with a gross profit margin of 30%. Writes NYTImes:
The shift to the supremacy of search engines indicates how swiftly business realities can change in Internet commerce. Giant portals have long tried to fence in Web surfers and keep them pacified. Google is exploding that strategy by taking advantage of the basic strength of the Internet: the ability to go instantly from one place to any other at no cost beyond the basic connection.
Google’s newfound power as arbiter of much of the world’s digital information, meanwhile, is posing concerns about privacy and fairness, not only from competitors but also from social policy experts and even librarians. Some worry that the company may have become too central in an age when so much vital information is available online.
“They’re the traffic cop at the main intersection of the information society,” said Jonathan Zittrain, co-director of the Berkman Center for Internet and Society at Harvard Law School. “They have an awesome responsibility.”
Google handles about 200 million searches a day. What is amazing is the size of its computing infrastructure: “The company stopped giving updates on the size of its computing resources in 2001. But several people with knowledge of the system said it consists of more than 54,000 servers designed by Google engineers from basic components. It contains about 100,000 processors and 261,000 disks, these people said, making it what many consider the largest computing system in the world.”