Hits and Misses
You know you've really made it when your name becomes a verb. But the phrase "to Google" has begun to mean more than just "search for something on the Web." It now signifies a kind of overarching ambition that's both impressive and a little scary. And when a company as large and ubiquitous Google stumbles, the whole world feels the aftershocks.
Here are five of its biggest failures, followed by five things Google got right.
The China Syndrome
After a series of compromises between Google and the government, Google.cn is again live, though Chinese Netizens can only use it to search for music, products and translation services. The Great Firewall still blocks Chinese users from viewing search results on forbidden topics like Falun Gong, Beijing continues to spy on Netizens (while vigorously denying it), and Google is busy launching new business deals on the mainland.
When you put the planet's brightest geeks in a room, you end up with some great products -- as well as stuff only a geek could love. Take Google Wave, which was supposed to revolutionize how people collaborate online but mostly just made them go "huh?".
Buying the Pharma
Did you know it's illegal to sell pharmaceutical products from foreign vendors in the US? Google did. But that still didn't stop the search giant from running ads for cheap Canadian pharmacies from 2003 to 2009, raking in billions in ad revenue.
Want to convince the world you're not evil? Don't siphon data from people's wireless networks while taking pictures of their houses.
What's up, Docs
It's not all lying and spying in Googleland. The search/advertising giant wouldn't be the behemoth it is today if it didn't do a few things right. Like the following:
Over the years Google Docs has grown into an impressive set of tools, including data storage, site creation, messaging and more.
They started life as simple illustrations; now the Google Doodle has become a Web phenomenon, more creative and entertaining than any session of Angry Birds or Farmville.
We are all Wael Ghonim
Google deserves kudos for encouraging one of its executives, Wael Ghonim, to take a leave of absence to become the face of the revolution that toppled Egypt's president-for-life-and-beyond Hosni Mubarak.
PWNing Microsoft and Apple
Starting with zero market share in September 2008, Android is now the most popular smartphone operating system in the US.
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