Google's 5 Biggest Hits (and Misses)

You know you've really made it when your name becomes a verb.

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.

[ Google Street View disasters ]

Here are five of its biggest failures, followed by five things Google got right.

The Nexus None

Not content with populating the world with Android handsets, in January 2010 Google decided to rewrite the rules of the wireless game by offering unlocked HTC Nexus One handsets directly to consumers via the Web. Within four months Google bailed on its Web store experiment.

The China Syndrome

After a series of compromises between Google and the government, 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.

Extreme Geekitude

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.

Google pays $500M over fraudulent pharma ad charges

Wi-Fi Spies

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.

Microsoft matches Google Docs with collaboration in Word Web App

Howdy, Doodle

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.

Google Doodle guitar gallery: Songs galore!

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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