Google has been experiencing worldwide pressure lately. In China, the government has blocked most of mainland China’s access to Gmail and Google Search. Investment banks are taking a cautious step back. Spain has passed publication laws that made Google react by shutting down its Google News service in the country. With all these negative reactions to Google’s online dominance, is the future of Google looking a bit grey?
The Great Firewall of China
By the end of December, China blocked most of the country’s access to GMail, and by the start of 2015 most of the nation could not access Google Search, supposedly due to deliberate action by the government. The incident isn’t so surprising. Google and China have never meshed well together. In 2009 Google pulled it’s operation in mainland China after four years in the country, in response to censorship of YouTube videos of Chinese authorities beating Tibetans. Up until recently, Google was using its Hong Kong servers to provide access to its search. However, now that Google has been cut off throughout the entirety of China, the search giant’s reach seems to waning in the most populated country on Earth.
Trouble in the market
GOOG has done well for itself. Yet a chain of some of the biggest investment banks in the world have downgraded, or at least expressed more caution towards GOOG, due to lowered predictions for the 2015 year. The reasons mainly center around Google’s waning power over the search market, with contenders like Facebook, Amazon and other search engines like Baidu in China, Qwant in France and Yandex in Russia claiming a sizable chunk of user queries. Macquarie, JP Morgan and Bank of America/Merrill Lynch have joined the fray of naysayers, expressing doubt over Google’s near future in search. Still, 84% of analysts are recommending buying GOOG now that the price has gone down, as compared to 69% in 2013.
Dark waters on the European front
Google recently pulled its news service from Spain due to a set of laws passed requiring online services that show news clips to pay for the right. Google’s controversies throughout Europe are far reaching. The European Union reopened its antitrust investigation, something that has been ongoing for four years. The EU is looking into whether the giant is hurting businesses with 90% of European searches conducted on Google.
Google search engine market share by country. By Trellian.
A (synthetically) bright future
Larry Page has backed away from day-to-day operations to focus on the “bigger picture” of Google’s future in response to all the recent controversy. But despite the attacks on all fronts, the giant isn’t even close to taking a knee. With billions in revenue (91% of Google’s revenue is ads), the giant is here to stay, for the time being. So what is it putting its money in?
- Google glass, slated to release sometime in 2015;
- scoring bigger YouTube ad budgets from big companies;
- the spreading of the Android OS;
- driverless cars and other robotic innovations;
- much more.
These are a few of Google’s more popular projects. Despite its hold on the search market, and a number of other industries, the company is prepared to be dethroned in one area in order to climb another.
This spells one thing: future-proof.