While Google was originally just a search engine, it has since evolved into more of an umbrella term expanding way beyond the limitations of merely being just another online organisational brand. How prevalent are they? Well, given that the mere instance of searching for something online has seen ‘google’ or ‘googling’ officially recognised as a verb, I’d say pretty substantial.
Yes, ‘googling’ (with a little g) is something that you do. Well, something my mother does at least in her somewhat inaccurate and kicking-and-screaming embrace of the interwebs.
It does, of course, go without saying though that Google has spread its wings quite notably over the last 25 years and now has its fingers in a lot of different pies. And, in many instances, very useful and/or entertaining ones for us consumers.
Predominantly though, and let’s be honest, for 95% of you reading this, Google largely incorporates three main key functions. An internet search engine, its market-dominating Chrome browser, and its YouTube video platform. – These are three services you probably use multiple if not hundreds of times every single day, and for good reason as they all used to be excellent.
Is it just me though, or are these three core aspects of Google’s success slowly succumbing to being, well… There really are no other words for it. A bit crap?
To give this a fair shake, and more so an opportunity to explain why I’m saying this though, let’s take a key look at each of these ‘core’ products in focus and why, on the whole, I think they have significantly worsened over the last couple of years.
For well over 15 years now, Google has completely dominated the search engine landscape. Competition? Google either beat them, bought them, or crushed them out of existence. And, in fairness, many of these competing websites were the makers of their own downfall.
In the vast majority of instances, the reason for this was two-fold. – Firstly, a total lack of any serious innovation or investment made them not only lose their edge but also made them significantly less fashionable/appealing when the ‘second wave’ of internet users arrived in the early 2000s. The second reason? Well, the total managerial incompetence (and ignorance) of the established search engines left the doors wide open for Google to barge right on in!
In many instances though, Google as a search engine today is repeating a lot of the mistakes prior competitors such as Yahoo, Ask Jeeves, and even Bing made. – Put simply, in terms of search results, it’s getting pretty awful.
Just to give you an example, earlier this week my smartphone decided that wired headphones were plugged in even though none were. I was honestly a bit baffled and decided to turn to ‘Google’ to see if I could find some help. I was genuinely worried something had gone seriously wrong with my phone. And this is coming from someone who is not ignorant of technology and the general causes and solutions to problems.
So, what did I find on Google? Well, of the 9 website results which cropped up on the front page (none of which I’ll name here), 8 of them led me to those kinds of websites. You know, the ones where you have to scroll through around 2,000 words worth of platitudes, irrelevancies, false narratives, oh and a small mountain of adverts before you get any actual advice.
And did any of them provide me with a solution or something I could try? You know, like within the first easy-to-read paragraph? Nope. Not a single one! – Although I already had a pretty solid idea based on the domain names which were cropping up in my search results, these were all spam touting websites paying Google (or bots) to kick their articles up the search ranking algorithm with Google, as the platform, happily obliging.
This isn’t the first time Google had let me down though. In fact, it wasn’t even the 100th time if I really think about it. – Once upon a time, Google was really good at its job. And annoying, in the not-too-distant past. If you’re turning to Google for actual help and advice these days though, you’re probably having to slog through a lot of absolute garbage before you might find something, anything, genuinely useful!
The thing that cracks me up the most though is the fact that I’d gotten so exasperated with Google that I actually tried Bing. And what do you know, I actually got a useful result. – No, it wasn’t top of the list, but it was in the top three!
Overall, Google, either through greed or through its clearly easily exploited algorithm simply isn’t a good search engine any more. It’s crap, and deep down, I think we all know it.
I’m not ignorant of the irony that after complaining about long-winded articles that are slow to get to the point I’ve only (so far) covered my rant against Google being a pretty crap search engine. – Let’s soldier on though…
YouTube? – Like their search engine, Google is killing it with greed! – I am aware that you can pay for a premium level of service on YouTube which removes all advertisements. I do not, however, feel that YouTube is an integral enough part of my life to warrant this. Hence why I typically tended to, with a relative feeling of fairness, used to take their adverts as a mildly annoying part of me enjoying what is, admittedly, a free service. However, over the last 3 years, I’ve started to notice a significant change in how YouTube works and very much so in regard to its adverts.
Remember the days of a singular 6-second advert? Maybe a skippable 20-second slot? Well, and I’m sure I’m not alone here, it feels like I’m being constantly mandated now to watch unskippable 15-20 seconds videos. Often two on the bounce! – The tipping point was when I started regularly seeing unskippable 20-second adverts for videos which were (and are), and I kid you not, less than 7 seconds in length. – Yes, the advert was basically over 200% longer than the video itself!
Google is getting ridiculous in its implementation of adverts on YouTube. And yes, perhaps that’s something to do with the number of people who bypass them completely via adblockers (something which Google is apparently planning to eliminate in a Chrome update planned for later this year). Overall though, I really do have a legitimate love/hate relationship with YouTube right now.
Finding good new content on YouTube is hard. And this must hugely suck for smaller (and excellent) channels desperately trying to carve themselves a small slice of the online world! Alas, most can’t do what Twitch seems happy to allow which, for female users, is to make sure the webcam showcases 80% cleavage to attract the horny and desperate.
Back on point though, the ‘recommended’ list on YouTube these days only seems to throw up major names already well-established on the platform, or, more annoyingly, videos I’ve already watched before! – YouTube, like the search engine, doesn’t feel like the open-world playground it once was. I just feel like I’m being constantly manipulated and drawn towards stuff that someone has paid Google to be promoted!
Finally, we have Chrome. An internet browser which, for practically 15 years now, has completely dominated the market share landscape. – Google’s browser does, of course, have competition. And honestly, in many instances, competition that offers services, features, and functionality well in excess of what Chrome can currently do. Despite this though, Chrome still maintains (just on PC desktops I should note) a 66%-70% market share that has barely moved for 10 years!
Even the release of the monumentally improved Chromium-based Microsoft Edge three years ago barely did anything. And this is the browser you get bundled in as default with Windows 10 and 11! – Despite this though, Chrome still remains the vastly most popular and populous online browser.
Here’s a question though, why?…
Google might be convenient, friendly (on the surface), and simple to use, but its problems are well-documented. – In terms of memory, Chrome is still the literal thief of RAM. If you have more than 2-3 browser tabs open on a relatively humble platform, you’re going to start noticing the sluggishness pretty quickly! Privacy? Yeah, Chrome is actually pretty bad (or should that be good?) at tracking your online activities. Even the so-called ‘incognito’ mode still spies on you, just in a slightly less intrusive manner.
There are, quite frankly, better alternatives to Chrome, but people haven’t yet decided to move away from it. At least not yet. – On this and all the other aforementioned points, however, Google might be sleepwalking into disaster.
Overall, between Google, YouTube, and Chrome, I can’t help but feel that this is almost the exact same position that Yahoo was in 20 years ago. A pretty hefty (if not total) market dominance with a somewhat hefty dose of complacency, and, dare I say, contempt for its user base.
As noted above, Google’s predecessors left the doors wide open for Google to burst through and take the whole damn house over, but is Google making the exact same mistakes that its former competition did?
No joke, I could easily be tempted onto a different search engine right now. One that, you know, actually gave me some relevant results instead of manipulated ad-riddled shovelware. Bing could do this if Microsoft could solve its huge perception problem. Well, that and, you know, continuing to try and make it better. And this is a key point, Microsoft is pumping a hell of a lot of resourcing right now into attempting to improve Bing as a legitimate alternative. Will it work? Probably not, but Microsoft hasn’t given up and that clearly shows that they believe that Google can lose its dominance.
In regard to video, people have been crying out for years that YouTube needs a mainstream alternative platform. This is clearly a significantly more difficult task, but hell, it can be done! And no, I don’t include TikTok in this since that’s really a bit of a different style of video. If you post or watch content on YouTube though, you’d probably be willing to check out any alternative option if it worked better for you as both the user and consumer!
And the Chrome browser? Well, this is tough because many would argue (in my opinion, quite rightly) that better alternatives already exist. I, for one, 100% endorse Edge as being, hands down, better than Chrome. People haven’t made the transition yet, but with the right kind of marketing, advertising, and luck, anyone could have a swing at Chrome’s dominance. The problem for Microsoft though is that, like Bing and Windows 11, Edge really does have a huge perception problem! – For those in the know though, we’re all aware that browsers like Firefox and Opera deserve higher market shares than they currently have!
Overall though, I’m getting to seriously dislike Google. I legitimately feel that having once been the plucky fashionable and friendly firm that everyone loved, they’ve sadly grown to such proportions in stature and near-cemented market dominance that they actually don’t have to bother giving a shit about its consumers anymore (because they feel they don’t have to!).
I’m not saying I wish them to suffer the same fate as Yahoo, AOL, and all others who have relaxed just a bit too much, but at the same time, is Google getting complacent? Absolutely. Does it really care about its users any more? I don’t think so. – I don’t want Google to fail, but I would like them, for just one moment, to remember that what they did to their competition could easily come back to haunt them if they’re not careful.
In conclusion, for search engines, video content, or internet browsers, I’m always open to alternatives. And that brief sentence, if echoed and voiced by more, should really start to scare Google if they finally decide to start paying attention to their own, self-induced, decline!
What do you think though? – Let us know in the comments!
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