Google owns a lot of products that don't include "Google" in the name.
But are you aware of the notable products/services they own that aren't "Google" this or "Google" that?
More importantly, do you use or regularly interact with any of these products or services?
This is a post in our series on the Big Tech "monopolies."
Alphabet (the stock market name for the entirety of the Google company) has had many notable acquisitions that has helped in the launch or improvement of its services.
However, all these notable acquisitions manage to reduce competition in the market. Additionally, they are all integrated into Google's massive data harvesting ecosystem - whether you want them to be or not.
These additional avenues for data collection ultimately mean that Google has even more access to more facets of your life. This means more tracking, more targeted ads, and less privacy for you.
You should be aware that Google's entire ecosystem is designed to collect as much data about you as possible, whether you provide the data knowingly or not. Your data is ultimately used:
- To sell to other companies such as data brokers and analytics corporations
- To feed the AI algorithms that contribute to the filter bubble problem
- To feed AI algorithms that make "hyper personalization" possible
- To sell super-targeted ads
Your data is also stored, and further scrutinized by Google on their own terms. While this doesn't mean they can do whatever they want (such as openly and boldly breaking the law)... it doesn't stop Alphabet from trying.
Obviously, you know that anything with "Google" in the name belongs to Google. But did you know Google also owns (either majorly or entirely):
Did you know that up until October of 2006, YouTube was an independent company? Did you know that it was the top video-sharing website before Google acquired it?
Hell, were you aware that Google owns YouTube in its entirety?
As you already know, YouTube has remained at the top when it comes to video-sharing platforms over the years. In fact, you can say it’s so far at the top that it's in the clouds:
- YouTube has an estimated 2 billion active users every month
- Users watch 1 billion hours of video content on YouTube every day
- YouTube has been described as one of the "best marketing channels" to-date (think: ads)
- YouTube ads get seen more than your regular TV ads
Any worthwhile competition hasn't been able to either keep up or stay alive long enough to challenge Google's YouTube's spot as number 1.
First, let it be known that Android itself is actually free and open source.
However, around 2007 Google did acquire a company called "Android."
What's more is that Google is the absolute number 1 contributor to Android's development and source code; you can say they effectively control the Android version that you're used to seeing on devices such as Pixel or Samsung devices.
Hence, all the Google-ly services and Google-friendly default settings that get shipped out with just about every Android based device available on the mainstream market today.
Thinking about starting a blog? Want some place to post your thoughts with an audience reading and/or commenting?
If you're not quite ready to make the jump to having your own webhost, then Blogger is a platform that sounds like it's right up your alley.
But wait! Did you know that its parent company is none other than Google?
Blogger is one of the oldest blog-publishing services on the net. It was launched in 1999 by Pyra Labs. By 2003, Google acquired it.
This also means that even if you're publishing under a pseudonym, it's likely easier than you think to trace all your posts back to you and your devices.
(Not to mention you're feeding a ton of data into Google's data collection ecosystem, pseudonym or not.)
This is for all the webmasters out there, but all users should listen up:
The reCAPTCHA service is owned and operated by Google.
Wait, what is reCAPTCHA? In short, it's a way to "automatically" filter bots from filling out web forms and/or accessing websites. Bots are often used to abuse web forms by sending spam, creating mass bogus accounts, or attacking websites.
Well, naturally, Google's reCAPTCHA service has come under fire in recent years.
If you're interested, we are currently documenting our move from reCAPTCHA to another CAPTCHA service.
Waze is a GPS navigation app that has real-time traffic and other hazard updates. These updates are submitted and maintained mostly by other users of the app.
Waze was probably the biggest competitor to Google Maps prior to 2013.
That's because in 2013, Google officially acquired Waze. So now it's part of the Google family.
Even if you opt to use Waze instead of Google Maps, you're still feeding your location history and current locations straight to Alphabet.
Nest deals in smart home technology. Smart home technology includes stuff like smart thermostats, smart door locks, smart alarm systems, etc.
Many in the privacy community are skeptic about smart home products, and often with good reason.
On average, smart home products phone home more often than they should. As a result of this phoning home, these smart home products often transmit data to remote servers that they probably shouldn't; just look at the numerous cases of Alexa (Amazon smart home speaker) listening, and possibly sending recorded private conversations back to Amazon and/or its vendors/contractors.
Not to mention, smart home products largely being on the fringes of IoT (Internet of Things) means they often have easily exploitable vulnerabilities.
Google bought Nest Labs in 2014.
All of Nest's products and services are now under "one roof," which is Google's roof.
This one's for all the developers out there.
For the uninitiated, Firebase is a platform for creating mobile and web apps. It allows developers to create and maintain apps. Additionally, developers can gather real time data, such as crash reporting, from their apps.
Many well-known companies use(d) it; some of these include Lyft, The New York Times, Venmo (PayPal), and Duolingo.
Originally Firebase was a standalone company, but Google acquired it in 2014.
Recently, Google's Firebase has come under scrutiny; it was accused of using the platform to track users without their knowledge or consent. Allegedly, this was happening even after users followed Google's own published instructions for turning off tracking/analytics.
Fitbit creates smartwatches and activity trackers. These wearables can measure and collect your exercise activities, steps per day, and your heart rate, for example.
Well, it was officially acquired by Google in 2020. The merger was made final in January 2021.
Fitbit has stated that the merge doesn't mean Google will collect health-data for marketing and advertising purposes. Even if this holds true, you can bet that Google is collecting, analyzing, and selling other data (that doesn't necessarily fall into the "health" category) collected by these devices such as precise location data of you and others you're frequently around.
Note: This list is not all-inclusive by any means. Google has officially acquired a ton of companies; a mostly complete list can be found at Wikipedia.
Google branded services that dominate the web
These are the Google services that dominate nearly the entirety of the internet.
Google owns 88% percent of the total search engine market share as of Q4 2020.
And this is not just limited to 2020. This is a dominating trend that has been going on for years.
In fact, from 2010 to 2020, it is estimated that Google's search engine market share has never dipped below 85%.
Ultimately, this means that all the other competing search engines - including private search engines such as DuckDuckGo - divvy up the remaining percentage amongst themselves.
It is estimated that Google Chrome (not just the open-source browser engine Chromium, which is also maintained by Google) has about 66% of the total browser market share.
If we assume that this statistic doesn't necessarily include the likes of other Chromium-based browsers such as Brave or Microsoft Edge (as of 2020), then we can also assume that the market share for Chromium has a whole is reasonably higher.
Many browsers are based on the Chromium framework, some of these include:
- Microsoft Edge (as of 2020)
- Opera (as of 2013)
Google Analytics is the most popular website analytics service on the internet.
It's estimated that Google Analytics has nearly 54% of the analytic service market share. This isn't necessarily 54% of all websites, but rather 54% of sites that use analytics at all.
Regardless, it's still a significant amount.
If you run a tracker blocker - which you absolutely should - you should take a look at what kinds of trackers you're blocking. You're almost guaranteed to see some form of Google Analytics blocked; in fact, I'm willing to bet that it's probably your number 1 blocked tracker.
As of 2019, it's estimated that Google owns a little over 73% of the search ad market. (Amazon is second).
Ultimately, this means that 73% of total search ad spend (55 billion US dollars in 2019) is going straight to Google.
For reference, 73% of 55 billion is roughly 40.15 billion.
Gmail (Google Mail)
As of 2018, there were over 1.5 billion active users of Gmail.
Of the US only email provider marketshare, Google sits at 53% for 2020. There are about 246 million monthly email users in the US, so that means about 130 million are active users of Gmail.
Gmail owns 27% of the total global email client marketshare, second only to Apple.
Note: Again, this is not an exhaustive list of all the services and products owned/managed/maintained by Google.
And, as always, stay safe out there!