From Resident Evil to The Matrix, in science fiction there’s always been an endless supply of apocalyptic scenarios. Aliens, mutants, super viruses and super soldiers have all threatened the very existence of humanity, only to be defeated at the last possible moment. But one thing that often remains consistent is the dominance, and usually recklessness of some sort of super company, more often than not a technology or science company. It’s easy to occasionally wonder if scenarios like that are even possible. In the past people envisioned, joked about, and even worried whether companies like Microsoft would eventually follow the same apocalyptic path. So I thought what company is gearing up to post the next worldwide domination threat?
At first most people instantly think of Apple. It’s hard not to, with their sleek, futuristic stores and powerful marketing campaigns. And let’s not forget the painful death the MP3 player and all other forms of competitor had to the iPod, a murder Apple has been keen to try and repeat in the smartphone market. Apple over the past several years has heavily marketed itself as the future, the forefront of simplicity and innovation. It’s almost unnatural to think of any other company in the same league and world as Apple.But if we ever found ourselves living in a world sustained and ultimately at the mercy of a tech company, would it really be Apple? More likely, to my mind, it would be one of the companies they share their most bitter rivalry with, Google.
Google as a company isn’t quite about doing any one particular thing, it’s about seamlessly, subtly and aggressively integrating itself between everything. It won the war of search engines that spilled over from the 90s with simplicity and efficiency. Almost overnight it became a household name embedded in our language. Without so much as a blink from anyone, ‘Google’ became the name of internet searching; it became a verb. But what makes this company stand out is its desire to carefully become a part of everything through technology. They’ve envisioned a future where technology integrates all our products with us, and whenever and wherever that integration is happening Google seeks to be a part of it.
Google saw a future where we all had smartphones and it has since used the Android operating system as a platform to make sure that the majority of the world’s smartphones operate through them, quietly and efficiently embedding themselves broadly throughout the rise of the smartphone. They made sure that as we increasingly pull at the wealth of information and entertainment stored online we pull it through their web page, music and video search engines, stores and archives. If it involves the digital consumption of information Google wants to be the filter through which we do it, essentially transforming themselves into an integral part of everything.
Google understands that when it comes to technology, the field is ever-changing and the consumer is incredibly fickle. Today we all have smartphones, perhaps tomorrow we’ll all be using futuristic super tech wristbands, who knows? But whatever happens we’ll be searching for and pulling digital information, and Google will continue to integrate itself into that process as firmly as it can. None of the other companies dominating the world of digital technology have as of yet managed to so broadly and stably do this. The likes of Apple, Facebook and Samsung are certainly big players in their own rights, but their futures have nowhere near the same certainty as that of Google’s. They seem at the mercy of digital and technological trends. What if phones are replaced by something else, or social networking takes another radical change, or technology as we know it gets another big shake up? These companies all ride along with what’s trendy, while Google is all about staying essential.
So agreeably it’s unlikely Google are going to take over the world tomorrow and release a new military virus by accident, or enslave us with their robots. But if there’s a digital technology company we need to watch out for it’s probably these obvious and yet not so obvious guys.