There are very few companies that become so engrained into our culture that they become a verb. Google is obviously the ginormous search/advertising giant in the internet age, but the purpose of this post is to tell you about some of their other products. Google employs more PhD degree holders than any other company in the world, so they have a lot of talent to come up with new and innovative products. They operate in a unique way that encourages a wonderful corporate culture — everything from a free gourmet cafeteria to elaborate hoaxes on April Fool’s day. They have several mottos that they live by at the company; the most popular one is, “Don’t be evil!” I wish more companies had that up on their walls! They would also rather you fail at your job and learn something from it, than not try hard enough. Another great perk of working there is the “20% time.” Employees are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time to experiment, play, innovate, and sure, even screw around. This kind of culture has fostered a great deal of wonderful products and fun internet memes. We as a community have to learn from Google’s corporate culture and not restrict our children from play but encourage it, because exploration leads to learning.
There are several ways to keep up to date on the latest Google news. They have several blogs and Twitter accounts. If your business and personal life need a bit of fresh thinking and new ideas, I would definitely suggest the great book by Jeff Jarvis titled What Would Google Do? But there are also wonderful podcasts dedicated to covering this inspirational company, my favorite being This Week in Google. Consuming this content is key to understanding this new linked economy, and how business models are getting turned upside down by a couple of people who started working out of their garage. There are also several controversies around privacy issues with using Google products. After all, if you use its services for a few months, they will undoubtedly know more about you than even you do. That can be a scary thought! With that said, below is a list of the services that have completely revolutionized, simplified and improved my life.
Google Apps: Gmail, Calendar, Docs, and much more with your own domain name. This is an amazing service provided by Google free of charge, for up to 50 users per organization/domain. This has been crucial to our success as a startup. Since its invite-only days back in 2006, I set up my domain to use Google Apps and I’ve never looked back.Now universities, non-profits and companies have migrated to this system and have gained so much productivity and simplicity. I think this was one of Googgle’s most genius moves to take over the world.
Gmail/Calendar: Obvious, but an important one. Countless people still have Hotmail accounts. The simplicity of search and finding what you are looking for is amazing. I’ve also set up important IMAP syncing with my iPhone. This provides perfect harmony with my inbox and calendar, which I could not live without. I have over four email accounts with Gmail/Google Apps, and they all have almost 25,000 emails archived. Literally every email I’ve ever received is there. I will never lose any key bit of info again.
Google Docs: Everything from word processing, spreadsheets, presentation software, PDFs and even drawings. Here at Gozamos, we have a team of over 20 active editors and contributors, and we work solely on Google Docs. There is no better way to automatically synchronize, edit, review and forever save all of our content other than the regular website backups. We also routinely export everything in the system for a secondary backup.
Google Chrome: Like a glass of ice water in hell (I mean Windows ;), dump your tired, crusty and outdated Internet Explorer for this simple, clean and super, super fast browser! As a web developer, I urge to to help make the internet better by using a modern web browser that is leading the way with new technologies. Plus, it auto- updates so that you never have to worry about in security issues again.
Google Android: AT&T haters, rejoice! You don’t have to be jealous of the fabulous iPhone when you have such an amazing and open-sourced operating system to run your mobile world. All of the other services are greatly enhanced when you use an Android phone.
Google Voice: Free phone number and voicemail with transcripts? Sure! Cheap international calling? Why not!? This is not a replacement for a phone line, but an efficient way for a busy person to automatically route calls to different numbers and sync contacts.
Google Earth/Maps: Explore the world, and make it even better by turning on the photos feature! Simply stunning photographs, and if you pair this with the Wikipedia plugin, you will lose about two days of productivity.
AtGoogle Talks: Sure, they own YouTube in all its glory, but they also feature a great speaker series at their campus and put all the videos up for everyone to enjoy.
There are almost an infinite amount of products and services provided by Google. Sadly, some have been shut down. My beloved Google Wave was recently killed, but while it may seem like a failure, I know many of the technologies created along the way will live on in many other products. I believe we need to evolve and understand their corporate culture to help us learn how to run successful lives and companies.
Do you hate Google? Do you think they are the next Big Brother? Quite possibly! But to be honest, I trust them. For a company, they truly have morals. They are doing their best to be balaced with the issues of sensorship in China and even openly admitted mistakes when they “accidentally” captured un-encripted data while driving around for Google Maps photos. As Jeff Jarvis put is, they are Snuffleupagus. A giant, fluffy elephant that means well, and is truly nice on the inside.
Please share your thoughts on your favorite Google products below in the Comments box!