Reflections on 25 years of Google Search.

Today is 25 years of Google Search. Surely, it can’t be that long, can it?! I recall it like it was yesterday when I first encountered Google. It had come to my attention by word of mouth when I worked at Africa Online, one of Kenya’s first Internet Service Providers (ISPs). 

Back in those days, we used search engines like AltaVista, HotBot, and Yahoo! to find things online. None of them worked well to be honest as you could end up looking at 10 or even more search engine results pages (SERPs) to find what you were looking for. It was clunky, time-consuming, and most importantly frustrating! 

Then one of my colleagues asked me if I had tried Google to search. ‘Google’, I asked. ‘What is that?’. It was an odd name which was typical of internet startups back then during the ‘dotcom’ boom. I typed in http://Google.com and a minimalist web page came up with more or less just a search bar which was unusual as most search engines then had lots of content on the homepage with ads all over the place, or what we used to call a portal. 

Google’s homepage had no such ambitions as it was clear from the onset that search was the focus. So, I typed in a search query into Google, and my mind was blown! On page one, with minimal fuss and time as Google was also fast, I had the correct search results! I gave it another few goes and the rest as they say is history, for me and billions of other Internet users. From that point onwards, the good news of Google search spread like wildfire and global domination of Internet search ensued. 

You need to understand that the order of magnitude by which Google made Internet search work as expected was a massive paradigm shift, akin to today where we are seeing what the advent of generative AI, triggered by ChatGPT just over a year ago, is changing everything. Google. Changed. Everything! Google has gone on to become one of the world’s biggest technology businesses on the back of building a really better mousetrap being the best search engine to date with an equally effective and efficient money printing machine making it all possible via Google Ads. 

The next 25 years of Google will be largely defined with generative AI being at the core and more specifically the recent launch of Google’s Gemini AI could be the tipping point of the next transformational era of Internet search for Google. My best bet is that whatever search looks like in 25 years, Google will still be around helping us find stuff and getting things done! 🙂

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