Google Earth

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Posted by r2d2 04/16/2009 @ 04:10

Tags : google earth, google, search engines, internet, technology

Google Earth

A render of the Flatirons in Boulder, Colorado by Google Earth

Google Earth is a virtual globe, map and geographic information program that was originally called Earth Viewer, and was created by Keyhole, Inc, a company acquired by Google in 2004. It maps the Earth by the superimposition of images obtained from satellite imagery, aerial photography and GIS 3D globe. It is available under three different licenses: Google Earth, a free version with limited functionality; Google Earth Plus (discontinued), which included additional features; and Google Earth Pro ($400 per year), which is intended for commercial use.

The product, re-released as Google Earth in 2005, is currently available for use on personal computers running Microsoft Windows 2000, XP, Vista, Mac OS X 10.3.9 and above, Linux (released on June 12, 2006), and FreeBSD. Google Earth is also available as a browser plugin (released on June 2, 2008) for Firefox, Safari 3, IE6 and IE7. It was also made available on the iPhone OS on October 27, 2008, as a free download from the App Store. In addition to releasing an updated Keyhole based client, Google also added the imagery from the Earth database to their web based mapping software. The release of Google Earth in June 2005 to the public caused a more than tenfold increase in media coverage on virtual globes between 2005 and 2006, driving public interest in geospatial technologies and applications.

Google Earth displays satellite images of varying resolution of the Earth's surface, allowing users to visually see things like cities and houses looking perpendicularly down or at an oblique angle, with perspective (see also bird's eye view). The degree of resolution available is based somewhat on the points of interest and popularity, but most land (except for some islands) is covered in at least 15 meters of resolution. Melbourne, Victoria, Las Vegas, Nevada, and Cambridge, Cambridgeshire include examples of the highest resolution, at 15 cm (6 inches). Google Earth allows users to search for addresses for some countries, enter coordinates, or simply use the mouse to browse to a location.

For large parts of the surface of the Earth only 2D images are available, from almost vertical photography. Viewing this from an oblique angle, there is perspective in the sense that objects which are horizontally far away are seen smaller, but of course it is like viewing a large photograph, not quite like a 3D view.

For other parts of the surface of the Earth 3D images of terrain and buildings are available. Google Earth uses digital elevation model (DEM) data collected by NASA's Shuttle Radar Topography Mission (SRTM). This means one can view the Grand Canyon or Mount Everest in three dimensions, instead of 2D like other areas. Since November 2006, the 3D views of many mountains, including Mount Everest, have been improved by the use of supplementary DEM data to fill the gaps in SRTM coverage.

Many people use the applications to add their own data, making them available through various sources, such as the Bulletin Board Systems (BBS) or blogs mentioned in the link section below. Google Earth is able to show all kinds of images overlaid on the surface of the earth and is also a Web Map Service client. Google Earth supports managing three-dimensional Geospatial data through Keyhole Markup Language (KML).

Google Earth has the capability to show 3D buildings and structures (such as bridges), which consist of users' submissions using SketchUp, a 3D modeling program. In prior versions of Google Earth (before Version 4), 3D buildings were limited to a few cities, and had poorer rendering with no textures. Many buildings and structures from around the world now have detailed 3D structures; including (but not limited to) those in the United States, Canada, Ireland, India, Japan, United Kingdom, Germany, Pakistan and the cities, Amsterdam and Alexandria. In August 2007, Hamburg became the first city entirely shown in 3D, including textures such as façades. The Irish town of Westport was added to Google Earth in 3D on January 16, 2008. The 'Westport3D' model was created by 3D imaging firm AM3TD using long-distance laser scanning technology and digital photography and is the first such model of an Irish town to be created. As it was developed initially to aid Local Government in carrying out their town planning functions it includes the highest resolution photo-realistic textures to be found anywhere in Google Earth. Three-dimensional renderings are available for certain buildings and structures around the world via Google's 3D Warehouse and other websites.

Recently, Google added a feature that allows users to monitor traffic speeds at loops located every 200 yards in real-time. In version 4.3 released on April 15, 2008, Google Street View was fully integrated into the program allowing the program to provide an on the street level view in many locations.

On January 17, 2009, the entirety of Google Earth's ocean floor imagery was updated to new images by SIO, NOAA, US Navy, NGA, and GEBCO. The new images have caused smaller islands, such as some atolls in the Maldives, to be rendered invisible despite their shores being completely outlined.

In December 2006 Google Earth added a new layer called "Geographic Web" that includes integration with Wikipedia and Panoramio. In Wikipedia, entries are scraped for coordinates via the Coord templates. There is also a community-layer from the project Wikipedia-World. More coordinates are used, different types are in the display and different languages are supported than the built-in Wikipedia layer. See: *dynamic resp. static layer. Google announced on May 30, 2007 that it is acquiring Panoramio.

Since Google Earth v4.2, a flight simulator has been included as a hidden feature. Depending on the system, it can be accessed by pressing Control+Alt+A, Control+A, or Command+Option+A. After this feature has been activated at least once it appears under the tools menu. Since v4.3 the option is no longer hidden by default. Currently the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the Cirrus SR-22 are the only aircraft that can be used, in addition to a few airports. It is also possible to control the simulator with a mouse or joystick, although not all models are currently supported.

The Google Earth flight simulator features the ability to fly to any supported locations of the world. The pilot can choose any location to start a flight or attempt to land a flight in the world. Fly time is not very accelerated, as it takes the F-16 at highest speed at least 60 minutes to fly from coast-to-coast in the US. Aircraft can land on any level surface in the world (including under the ocean in Google Earth 5.0) as long as the aircraft is below 250 MPH and is falling at less than 2,000ft per minute when touching ground. In Google Earth 5.0, you can fly under water in the oceans.

In version 4.2, released August 22, 2007, Google Earth added a Sky tool for viewing stars and astronomical images.

Google Sky is produced by Google through a partnership with the Space Telescope Science Institute in Baltimore, the science operations center for the Hubble Space Telescope. Dr. Alberto Conti and his co-developer Dr. Carol Christian of the Space Telescope Science Institute plan to add the public images from 2007, as well as color images of all of the archived data from Hubble's Advanced Camera for Surveys. Newly released Hubble pictures will be added to the Google Sky program as soon as they are issued. New features such as multi-wavelength data, positions of major satellites and their orbits as well as educational resources will be provided to the Google Earth community and also through Christian and Conti's website for Sky. Also visible on Sky mode are constellations, stars, galaxies and animations depicting the planets in their orbits. A real-time Google Sky mashup of recent astronomical transients, using the VOEvent protocol, is being provided by the VOEventNet collaboration.Google's Earth maps are being updated each 5 minutes.

Google Sky faces competition from Microsoft WorldWide Telescope (which runs only under the Microsoft Windows operating systems).

On April 15, 2001 with version 4.3 and 4.8, Google fully integrated its Street View into Google Earth.

Google Street View provides 360° panoramic street-level views and allows users to view parts of selected cities and their surrounding metropolitan areas at ground level. When it was launched on May 25, 2007 for Google Maps, only five cities were included. It has since expanded to more than 40 U.S. cities, and includes the suburbs of many, and in some cases, other nearby cities. A recent update has now implemented Street View in most of the major cities of Australia and New Zealand as well as parts of Japan, Spain, France, the UK and Italy.

Google Street View, when operated, displays photos that were previously taken by a camera mounted on an automobile, and can be navigated by using the mouse to click on photograph icons displayed on the screen in your direction of travel. Using these devices, the photos can be viewed in different sizes, from any direction, and from a variety of angles.

Introduced in version 5.0 (February 2009), the Google Ocean feature allows users to zoom below the surface of the ocean and view the 3D bathymetry beneath the waves. Supporting over 20 content layers, it contains information from leading scientists and oceanographers. On April 14, 2009, Google added underwater terrain data for the Great Lakes.

Introduced in version 5.0, Historical Imagery allows users to traverse back in time and study earlier stages of any place. This feature is very useful for research purposes that require analysis of past records of various places.

Google Earth 5 included a separate globe of the planet Mars that could be viewed. The maps are of a much higher resolution than those on the browser version of Google Mars and it also includes 3D renderings of the Martian terrain. There are also some extremely high resolution images from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter's HiRISE camera that are of a similar resolution to those of the cities on Earth. Finally, there are many high resolution panoramic images from various Mars landers, such as the Mars Exploration Rovers, Spirit and Opportunity, that can be viewed in a similar way to Google Street View. Interestingly enough, layers on Google Earth (such as World Population Density) can also be applied to Mars. Layers of Mars can also be applied onto Earth.

The Google Earth interface bears a noted similarity to the ‘Earth’ program described in Neal Stephenson’s sci-fi classic Snow Crash. Indeed, a Google Earth co-founder claimed that Google Earth was modeled after Snow Crash, while another co-founder said it was inspired by the short science education film Powers of Ten. In fact Google Earth was at least partly inspired by a Silicon Graphics demo called "From Space to in Your Face" which zoomed from space into the Swiss Alps then into the Matterhorn. This launch demo was hosted by a Onyx 3000 with InfiniteReality4 graphics, which supported Clip Mapping and was inspired by the hardware texture paging capability (although it did not use the Clip Mapping) and "Powers of Ten". The first Google Earth implementation called Earth Viewer emerged from Intrinsic Graphics as a demonstration of Chris Tanner's software based implementation of a Clip Mapping texture paging system and was spun off as Keyhole Inc. Earth Viewer was the inevitable ultimate realization of the capabilities of a seamless texture paging system and many of the individuals working on Earth Viewer were Silicon Graphics alumni.

Detailed release notes/history/changelog are made available by Google.

The most likely mode of failure is insufficient video RAM: the software is designed to warn the user if their graphics card is not able to support Earth (this often occurs due to insufficient Video RAM or buggy graphics card drivers). The next most likely mode of failure is Internet access speed. Except for the very patient, broadband Internet (Cable, DSL, T1, etc.) is required.

As of Google Earth 5, the contents of description balloons, which are created in KML using JavaScript and iFrames, are rendered with an embedded WebKit engine.

A version for Mac OS X was released on January 10, 2006, and is available for download from the Google Earth website. With a few exceptions noted below, the Mac version appears to be stable and complete, with virtually all the same functionality as the original Windows version.

Screenshots and an actual binary of the Mac version had been leaked to the Internet on December 8, 2005. The leaked version was significantly incomplete. Among other things, neither the Help menu nor its "Display License" feature worked, indicating that this version was intended for Google's internal use only. Google released no statement regarding the leak.

The Mac version runs only under Mac OS X version 10.4 or later. There is no embedded browser, no direct interface to Gmail and no full screen option. As of January 2009 there are a few bugs concerning the menu bar when switching between applications and a few bugs concerning annotation balloons and printing.

From version 4.1.7076.4558 (released on May 9, 2007) onward Mac OS X users can, among other new features, upgrade to the "Plus" version via an option in the Google Earth menu. Some users reported difficulties with Google Earth crashing in the then current version when zooming in.

From version 4.3, Google Earth for is no longer able to render text and image boxes for placemarks, including those associated with geographic layers, for users of Mac OS X 10.4. This has rendered versions 4.3 and 5.0 largely useless for Mac users.

Starting with the version 4 beta Google Earth functions under Linux, as a native port using the Qt-toolkit. It is proprietary software specifically in order to impose Digital Rights Management; the Free Software Foundation consider the development of a free compatible client for Google Earth to be a High Priority Free Software Project.

A version for the iPhone OS (which runs on both the iPhone and iPod Touch) was released for free on the App Store on October 27, 2008. It makes use of the multi-touch interface to move on the globe, zoom or rotate the view, and allow to select the current location using the iPhone integrated Assisted GPS. This version, however, does not feature layers like computer versions do. Like Google Maps, it only integrates the Wikipedia and Panoramio layers.

Originally, these features cost extra in addition to the $400 fee, but more recently have been included in the package. Google Earth Pro costs $400. It is used for commecial use.

Unlike the free version of Google Earth, the professional version does not work on Linux.

Google Earth Enterprise is a version of Google Earth designed for use by organizations whose business could take advantage of the program's capabilities.

A portable version of Google Earth, made with VMware ThinApp is also available.

Most land areas are covered in satellite imagery with a resolution of about 15 m per pixel. This base imagery is 30m multispectral Landsat which is pansharpened with the 15m Landsat imagery. However, Google is actively replacing this base imagery with 2.5m SPOTImage imagery and several higher resolution datasets mentioned below. Some population centers are also covered by aircraft imagery (orthophotography) with several pixels per meter. Oceans are covered at a much lower resolution, as are a number of islands; notably, the Isles of Scilly off southwest England, are at a resolution of about 500 m or less. These pictures are provided by Terrametrics.

Google has resolved many inaccuracies in the vector mapping since the original public release of the software, without requiring an update to the program itself. An example of this was the absence from Google Earth's map boundaries of the Nunavut territory in Canada, a territory that had been created on April 1, 1999; this mistake was corrected by one of the data updates in early 2006. Recent updates have also increased the coverage of detailed aerial photography, particularly in certain areas of western and central Europe.

The images are not all taken at the same time, but are generally current to within three years. Image sets are sometimes not correctly stitched together. Updates to the photographic database can occasionally be noticed when drastic changes take place in the appearance of the landscape, for example Google Earth's incomplete updates of New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina, or when placemarks appear to shift unexpectedly across the Earth's surface. Though the placemarks have not in fact moved, the imagery is composed and stitched differently. Such an update to London's photography in early 2006 created shifts of 15-20 metres in many areas, noticeable because the resolution is so high.

Place name and road detail vary greatly from place to place. They are most accurate in North America and Europe, but regular mapping updates are improving coverage elsewhere.

Errors sometimes occur due to the technology used to measure the height of terrain; for example, tall buildings in Adelaide cause one part of the city to be rendered as a small mountain, when it is in fact flat. The height of the Eiffel Tower creates a similar effect in the rendering of Paris. Also, prior to the release of version 5.0 in February 2009, elevations below sea level were presented as sea level, for example: Salton City, California; Death Valley; and the Dead Sea were all listed as 0 m when Salton City is −38 m; Death Valley is −86 m; and the Dead Sea is −420 m.

Where no 3 arc second digital elevation data was available, the three dimensional images covering some areas of high relief are not at all accurate, but most mountain areas are now well mapped. The underlying digital elevation model has been placed 3 arc seconds too far north and up to 3 arc seconds too far west. This means that some steep mountain ridges incorrectly appear to have shadows extending over onto their south facing sides. Some high resolution images have also been misplaced, an example is the image covering Annapurna, which is misplaced by about 12 arc seconds. Elevation data was recently updated to 10-meter (1/3-arc-second) resolution for much of the United States from the previous 30-meter (1-arc-second) resolution.

The "Measure" function shows that the length of equator is about 40,030.24 km, giving an error of −0.112% compared with the actual value of 40,075.02 km Earth; for the meridional circumference, it shows a length of about 39,963.13 km, also giving an error of −0.112% compared with the actual value of 40,007.86 km.

On December 16, 2007, most of Antarctica was updated to a 15 m resolution using imagery from the Landsat Image Mosaic of Australia; (1m resolution images of some parts of Antarctica were added in June 2007); however, the Arctic polar ice cap is completely absent from the current version of Google Earth, as are waves in the oceans. The geographic North Pole is found hovering over the Arctic Ocean and the tiling system produces artifacts near the poles as the tiles become 'infinitely' small and rounding errors accumulate.

Cloud cover and shadows can make it difficult or impossible to see details in some land areas, including the shadow side of mountains.

The Google Earth Community is an online forum which is dedicated to producing placemarks of interesting or educational perspectives. It may be found on the Google Earth webpage or under the Help section on the program itself. After downloading a placemark, it will automatically run Google Earth (if not opened), and fly to the area specified by the person who placed it. Once there, you can add it to your "My Places" by right clicking on the icon and selecting "Save to My Places". Additionally, anyone can post a placemark for others to download; as long as you have an account.

The Google Earth Community was offline from January 12 to January 15 for site maintenance. When put back up, the site appeared to be redesigned. Even so, many old file links were broken, preventing most content from being downloaded. On January 19, however, a user named "Ink_polaroid" rewrote the coding in the links to work for the new site format, making all files viewable.

Some citizens may express concerns over aerial information depicting their properties and residences being disseminated freely. As relatively few jurisdictions actually guarantee the individual's right to privacy, as opposed to the state's right to secrecy, this is an evolving, but minor, point. Perhaps aware of these critiques, for a time, Google had Area 51 (which is highly visible and easy to find) in Nevada as a default placemark when Google Earth is first installed.

As a result of pressure from the United States government, the residence of the Vice President at Number One Observatory Circle was obscured through pixelization in Google Earth and Google Maps, but has since been lifted. The usefulness of this downgrade is questionable, as high-resolution photos and aerial surveys of the property are readily available on the Internet elsewhere. Capitol Hill used to also be pixelized in this way but this was lifted.

Critics have expressed concern over the willingness of Google to cripple their dataset to cater to special interests, believing that intentionally obscuring any land goes against its stated goal of letting the user "point and zoom to any place on the planet that you want to explore".

Currently, every image created from Google Earth using satellite data provided by Google Earth is a copyrighted map. Any derivative from Google Earth is made from copyrighted data which, under United States Copyright Law, may not be used except under the licenses Google provides. Google allows non-commercial personal use of the images (e.g. on a personal website or blog) as long as copyrights and attributions are preserved. By contrast, images created with NASA's globe software World Wind use the Blue Marble, Landsat or USGS layer, each of which is a terrain layer in the public domain. Works created by an agency of the United States government are public domain at the moment of creation. This means that those images can be freely modified, redistributed and used for commercial purposes.

Google Earth also features many layers as a source for information on businesses and points of interest, as well as showcasing the contents of many communities, such as Wikipedia, Panoramio and YouTube. Google updates with new layers often. Many Google Earth layers, such as Panoramio and Google Earth Community layers, are updated daily with entries from the respective websites.

Displays available road networks. The colors and signs displayed vary depending on the type of roadway.

Shows placemarks with 360 degree panoramic views of streets of many cities in Australia, Canada, France, Italy, Japan, New Zealand, Spain, the United States, and recently the United Kingdom, The Netherlands, and India.

Contains borders for countries/provinces and shows placemarks for cities and towns.

Displays colored indicators along those roads where real time traffic conditions are measured. Green indicators are used for good traffic conditions, yellow for slower speeds, and red for poor traffic conditions. By clicking on an indicator, the user can see the name of the road and the speed along that road. It is not clear with what frequency the indicators are updated.

A collection of services spreading global awareness. The layer was provided by Google Earth Outreach.

A collection of business listings provided by many local services.

Layers for Google Sky.

The Google Earth API is a free beta service, available for any web site that is free to consumers. The Plug-in and its JavaScript API allows users to place a version of Google Earth into web pages. The API does not have all the features of the full Google Earth Application but still allows you to build sophisticated 3D map applications.

It also supports 'Sky Mode' and provides the same controls and information bar as the full application.

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Google Earth Outreach

Google Earth Outreach is Google's program for donating and supporting non-profit organizations spreading the knowledge of global awareness. Google Earth Outreach offers online training on using Google Earth and Google Maps for public education on issues affecting local regions or the entire globe.

In June 2008 a training was given to 20 indigenous tribes in the Amazon rainforest to help them preserve their culture and protect their rainforest territory from deforestation.

People who create content for the public benefit sector can submit their KML to the Showcase Gallery, where content on Global Development, Public Health, Environment and Science, Culture and Education, and Social Services is posted. The program has been launched in 9 countries: US, UK, France, Italy, Germany, the Netherlands, Spain, Switzerland, and Brazil. This program also has a folder in Google Earth featuring layers from the programs it supports. Eligible charitable organizations can apply for a grant of the Google Earth Pro software.

Google Earth Outreach features videos in a YouTube Channel.

The many layers in Google Earth's Global Awareness layer are provided by Outreach.

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Google

Google in 1998

Google Inc. is an American public corporation, earning revenue from advertising related to its Internet search, e-mail, online mapping, office productivity, social networking, and video sharing services as well as selling advertising-free versions of the same technologies. The Google headquarters, the Googleplex, is located in Mountain View, California. As of December 31, 2008, the company has 20,222 full-time employees.

Google was co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin while they were students at Stanford University and the company was first incorporated as a privately held company on September 4, 1998. The initial public offering took place on August 19, 2004, raising US$1.67 billion, implying a value for the entire corporation of US$23 billion. Google has continued its growth through a series of new product developments, acquisitions, and partnerships. Environmentalism, philanthropy and positive employee relations have been important tenets during the growth of Google, the latter resulting in being identified multiple times as Fortune Magazine's #1 Best Place to Work. The unofficial company slogan is "Don't be evil", although criticism of Google includes concerns regarding the privacy of personal information, copyright, censorship and discontinuation of services. According to Millward Brown, it is the most powerful brand in the world.

Google began in January 1996, as a research project by Larry Page, who was soon joined by Sergey Brin, when they were both Ph.D. students at Stanford University in California. They hypothesized that a search engine that analyzed the relationships between websites would produce better ranking of results than existing techniques, which ranked results according to the number of times the search term appeared on a page. Their search engine was originally nicknamed "BackRub" because the system checked backlinks to estimate the importance of a site. A small search engine called Rankdex was already exploring a similar strategy.

Convinced that the pages with the most links to them from other highly relevant web pages must be the most relevant pages associated with the search, Page and Brin tested their thesis as part of their studies, and laid the foundation for their search engine. Originally, the search engine used the Stanford University website with the domain google.stanford.edu. The domain google.com was registered on 15 September 1997, and the company was incorporated as Google Inc. on 4 September 1998 at a friend's garage in Menlo Park, California. The total initial investment raised for the new company amounted to almost US$1.1 million, including a US$100,000 check by Andy Bechtolsheim, one of the founders of Sun Microsystems.

In March 1999, the company moved into offices in Palo Alto, home to several other noted Silicon Valley technology startups. After quickly outgrowing two other sites, the company leased a complex of buildings in Mountain View at 1600 Amphitheatre Parkway from Silicon Graphics (SGI) in 2003. The company has remained at this location ever since, and the complex has since come to be known as the Googleplex (a play on the word googolplex). In 2006, Google bought the property from SGI for US$319 million.

The Google search engine attracted a loyal following among the growing number of Internet users, who liked its simple design and useful results. In 2000, Google began selling advertisements associated with search keywords. The ads were text-based to maintain an uncluttered page design and to maximize page loading speed. Keywords were sold based on a combination of price bid and clickthroughs, with bidding starting at US$.05 per click. This model of selling keyword advertising was pioneered by Goto.com (later renamed Overture Services, before being acquired by Yahoo! and rebranded as Yahoo! Search Marketing). Goto.com was an Idealab spin off created by Bill Gross, and was the first company to successfully provide a pay-for-placement search service. Overture Services later sued Google over alleged infringements of Overture's pay-per-click and bidding patents by Google's AdWords service. The case was settled out of court, with Google agreeing to issue shares of common stock to Yahoo! in exchange for a perpetual license. Thus, while many of its dot-com rivals failed in the new Internet marketplace, Google quietly rose in stature while generating revenue.

A patent describing part of the Google ranking mechanism (PageRank) was granted on 4 September 2001. The patent was officially assigned to Stanford University and lists Lawrence Page as the inventor.

The first funding for Google as a company was secured in August 1998, in the form of a US$100,000 contribution from Andy Bechtolsheim, co-founder of Sun Microsystems, given to a corporation which did not yet exist.

On June 7, 1999 a round of funding of $25 million was announced, with the major investors being rival venture capital firms Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Sequoia Capital.

The Google IPO took place on 19 August 2004. 19,605,052 shares were offered at a price of US$85 per share. Of that, 14,142,135 (another mathematical reference as √2 ≈ 1.4142135) were floated by Google, and the remaining 5,462,917 were offered by existing stockholders. The sale of US$1.67 billion gave Google a market capitalization of more than US$23 billion. The vast majority of the 271 million shares remained under the control of Google. Many Google employees became instant paper millionaires. Yahoo!, a competitor of Google, also benefited from the IPO because it owned 8.4 million shares of Google as of 9 August 2004, ten days before the IPO.

The stock performance of Google after its first IPO launch has gone well, with shares hitting US$700 for the first time on 31 October 2007, due to strong sales and earnings in the advertising market, as well as the release of new features such as the desktop search function and its iGoogle personalized home page. The surge in stock price is fueled primarily by individual investors, as opposed to large institutional investors and mutual funds.

The company is listed on the NASDAQ stock exchange under the ticker symbol GOOG and under the London Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol GGEA.

While the primary business interest is in the web content arena, Google has begun experimenting with other markets, such as radio and print publications. On 17 January 2006, Google announced that its purchase of a radio advertising company "dMarc", which provides an automated system that allows companies to advertise on the radio. This will allow Google to combine two niche advertising media—the Internet and radio—with Google's ability to laser-focus on the tastes of consumers. Google has also begun an experiment in selling advertisements from its advertisers in offline newspapers and magazines, with select advertisements in the Chicago Sun-Times. They have been filling unsold space in the newspaper that would have normally been used for in-house advertisements.

Since 2001, Google has acquired several small start-up companies.

In 2004, Google acquired a company called Keyhole, Inc., which developed a product called Earth Viewer which was renamed in 2005 to Google Earth.

In February 2006, software company Adaptive Path sold Measure Map, a weblog statistics application, to Google. Registration to the service has since been temporarily disabled. The last update regarding the future of Measure Map was made on 6 April 2006 and outlined many of the known issues of the service.

In late 2006, Google bought the online video site YouTube for US$1.65 billion in stock. Shortly after, on 31 October 2006, Google announced that it had also acquired JotSpot, a developer of wiki technology for collaborative Web sites.

On 13 April 2007, Google reached an agreement to acquire DoubleClick. Google agreed to buy the company for US$3.1 billion.

On 2 July 2007, Google purchased GrandCentral. Google agreed to buy the company for US$50 million.

On 9 July 2007, Google announced that it had signed a definitive agreement to acquire enterprise messaging security and compliance company Postini.

In 2005, Google entered into partnerships with other companies and government agencies to improve production and services. Google announced a partnership with NASA Ames Research Center to build up 1,000,000 square feet (93,000 m2) of offices and work on research projects involving large-scale data management, nanotechnology, distributed computing, and the entrepreneurial space industry. Google also entered into a partnership with Sun Microsystems in October to help share and distribute each other's technologies. The company entered into a partnership with AOL of Time Warner, to enhance each other's video search services.

In 2006, Google and Fox Interactive Media of News Corp. entered into a US$900 million agreement to provide search and advertising on the popular social networking site, MySpace.

Google has developed a partnership with GeoEye to launch a satellite providing Google with high-resolution (0.41m black and white, 1.65m color) imagery for Google Earth. The satellite was launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base on 6 September 2008.

In 2008, Google announced that it was hosting an archive of Life magazine's photographs, as part of a joint effort. Some of the images in the archive were never published in the magazine.

Google has created services and tools for the general public and business environment alike; including Web applications, advertising networks and solutions for businesses.

99% of Google's revenue is derived from its advertising programs. For the 2006 fiscal year, the company reported US$10.492 billion in total advertising revenues and only US$112 million in licensing and other revenues. Google is able to precisely track users' interests across affiliated sites using DoubleClick technology and Google Analytics. Google's advertisements carry a lower price tag when their human ad-rating team working around the world believes the ads improve the company's user experience. Google AdWords allows Web advertisers to display advertisements in Google's search results and the Google Content Network, through either a cost-per-click or cost-per-view scheme. Google AdSense website owners can also display adverts on their own site, and earn money every time ads are clicked. Google began in March 2009 to use behavioral targeting based on users' interests.

Google has also been criticized by advertisers regarding its inability to combat click fraud, when a person or automated script is used to generate a charge on an advertisement without really having an interest in the product. Industry reports in 2006 claim that approximately 14 to 20 percent of clicks were in fact fraudulent or invalid.

In June 2008, Google reached an advertising agreement with Yahoo!, which would have allowed Yahoo! to feature Google advertisements on their web pages. The alliance between the two companies was never completely realized due to antitrust concerns by the U.S. Department of Justice. As a result, Google pulled out of the deal in November, 2008.

The Google web search engine is the company's most popular service. As of August 2007, Google is the most used search engine on the web with a 53.6% market share, ahead of Yahoo! (19.9%) and Live Search (12.9%). Google indexes billions of Web pages, so that users can search for the information they desire, through the use of keywords and operators, although at any given time it will only return a maximum of 1,000 results for any specific search query. Google has also employed the Web Search technology into other search services, including Image Search, Google News, the price comparison site Google Product Search, the interactive Usenet archive Google Groups, Google Maps, and more.

In 2004, Google launched its own free web-based e-mail service, known as Gmail (or Google Mail in some jurisdictions). Gmail features conversation view, spam-filtering technology, the capability to use Google technology to search e-mail. The service generates revenue by displaying advertisements and links from the AdWords service that are tailored to the choice of the user and/or content of the e-mail messages displayed on screen.

In early 2006, the company launched Google Video, which not only allows users to search and view freely available videos but also offers users and media publishers the ability to publish their content, including television shows on CBS, NBA basketball games, and music videos.

Google has also developed several desktop applications, including Google Desktop, Picasa, SketchUp and Google Earth, an interactive mapping program powered by satellite and aerial imagery that covers the vast majority of the planet. Many major cities have such detailed images that one can zoom in close enough to see vehicles and pedestrians clearly. Consequently, there have been some concerns about national security implications; contention is that the software can be used to pinpoint with near-precision accuracy the physical location of critical infrastructure, commercial and residential buildings, bases, government agencies, and so on. However, the satellite images are not necessarily frequently updated, and all of them are available at no charge through other products and even government sources; the software simply makes accessing the information easier. A number of Indian state governments have raised concerns about the security risks posed by geographic details provided by Google Earth's satellite imaging.

Google has promoted their products in various ways. In London, Google Space was set-up in Heathrow Airport, showcasing several products, including Gmail, Google Earth and Picasa. Also, a similar page was launched for American college students, under the name College Life, Powered by Google.

In 2007, some reports surfaced that Google was planning the release of its own mobile phone, possibly a competitor to Apple's iPhone. The project, called Android, an operating system provides a standard development kit that will allow any "Android" phone to run software developed for the Android SDK, no matter the phone manufacturer. In September 2008, T-Mobile released the first phone running the Android platform, the G1.

Google Translate (site) aka Google Language Tools (site) is a server-side machine translation service, which can translate 35 different languages to each other, forming 1190 language pairs. Browser extension tools (such as Firefox extensions) allow for easy access to Google Translate from the browser. The software uses corpus linguistics techniques from translated documents, (such as United Nations documents, which are professionally translated) to extract translations accurate up to 88 percent. A "suggest a better translation" feature appears with the original language text in a pop-up text field, allowing users to indicate where the current translation is incorrect or else inferior to another translation.

On 1 September 2008, Google pre-announced the upcoming availability of Google Chrome, an open-source web browser, which was released on 2 September 2008.

Google entered the Enterprise market in February, 2002 with the launch of its Google Search Appliance, targeted toward providing search technology to larger organizations. Providing search for a smaller document repository, Google launched the Mini in 2005.

Late in 2006, Google began to sell Custom Search Business Edition, providing customers with an advertising-free window into Google.com's index. In 2008, Google re-branded its next version of Custom Search Business Edition as Google Site Search.

In 2007, Google launched Google Apps Premier Edition, a version of Google Apps targeted primarily at the business user. It includes such extras as more disk space for e-mail, API access, and premium support, for a price of US$50 per user per year. A large implementation of Google Apps with 38,000 users is at Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ontario, Canada.

Also in 2007, Google acquired Postini and continued to sell the acquired technology as Google Security Services.

Google runs its services on several server farms, each comprising thousands of low-cost commodity computers running stripped-down versions of Linux. While the company divulges no details of its hardware, a 2006 estimate cites 450,000 servers, "racked up in clusters at data centers around the world." The company has about 24 server farms around the world of various configurations. The farm in The Dalles, Oregon is powered by hydroelectricity at about 50 megawatts.

Google has been criticized for having salaries below industry standards. For example, some system administrators earn no more than US$35,000 per year – considered to be quite low for the Bay Area job market. However, Google's stock performance following its IPO has enabled many early employees to be competitively compensated by participation in the corporation's remarkable equity growth.

After the company's IPO in August 2004, it was reported that founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page, and CEO Eric Schmidt, requested that their base salary be cut to US$1.00. Subsequent offers by the company to increase their salaries have been turned down, primarily because, "their primary compensation continues to come from returns on their ownership stakes in Google. As significant stockholders, their personal wealth is tied directly to sustained stock price appreciation and performance, which provides direct alignment with stockholder interests." Prior to 2004, Schmidt was making US$250,000 per year, and Page and Brin each earned a salary of US$150,000.

They have all declined recent offers of bonuses and increases in compensation by Google's board of directors. In a 2007 report of the United States' richest people, Forbes reported that Sergey Brin and Larry Page were tied for #5 with a net worth of US$18.5 billion each.

In 2007 and through early 2008, Google has seen the departure of several top executives. Justin Rosenstein, Google’s product manager, left in June 2007. Shortly thereafter, Gideon Yu, former chief financial officer of YouTube, a Google unit, joined Facebook along with Benjamin Ling, a high-ranking engineer, who left in October 2007. In March 2008, two senior Google leaders announced their desire to pursue other opportunities. Sheryl Sandburg, ex-VP of global online sales and operations began her position as COO of Facebook while Ash ElDifrawi, former head of brand advertising, left to become CMO of Netshops Inc.

U.S. District Court Judge Louis Stanton, on July 1, 2008 ordered Google to give YouTube user data / log to Viacom to support its case in a billion-dollar copyright lawsuit against Google. Google and Viacom, however, on July 14, 2008, agreed in compromise to protect YouTube users' personal data in the $1 billion (£ 497 million) copyright lawsuit. Google agreed it will make user information and internet protocol addresses from its YouTube subsidiary anonymous before handing over the data to Viacom. The privacy deal also applied to other litigants including the FA Premier League, the Rodgers & Hammerstein Organisation and the Scottish Premier League. The deal however did not extend the anonymity to employees, since Viacom would prove that Google staff are aware of uploading of illegal material to the site. The parties therefore will further meet on the matter lest the data be made available to the court.

Google's headquarters in Mountain View, California, is referred to as "the Googleplex" in a play of words; a googolplex being 1010100, or a one followed by a googol of zeros, and the HQ being a complex of buildings (cf. multiplex, cineplex, etc). The lobby is decorated with a piano, lava lamps, old server clusters, and a projection of search queries on the wall. The hallways are full of exercise balls and bicycles. Each employee has access to the corporate recreation center. Recreational amenities are scattered throughout the campus and include a workout room with weights and rowing machines, locker rooms, washers and dryers, a massage room, assorted video games, foosball, a baby grand piano, a pool table, and ping pong. In addition to the rec room, there are snack rooms stocked with various foods and drinks.

In 2006, Google moved into 311,000 square feet (28,900 m2) of office space in New York City, at 111 Eighth Ave. in Manhattan. The office was specially designed and built for Google and houses its largest advertising sales team, which has been instrumental in securing large partnerships, most recently deals with MySpace and AOL. In 2003, they added an engineering staff in New York City, which has been responsible for more than 100 engineering projects, including Google Maps, Google Spreadsheets, and others. It is estimated that the building costs Google US$10 million per year to rent and is similar in design and functionality to its Mountain View headquarters, including foosball, air hockey, and ping-pong tables, as well as a video game area. In November 2006, Google opened offices on Carnegie Mellon's campus in Pittsburgh. By late 2006, Google also established a new headquarters for its AdWords division in Ann Arbor, Michigan.

Google is taking steps to ensure that their operations are environmentally sound. In October 2006, the company announced plans to install thousands of solar panels to provide up to 1.6 megawatts of electricity, enough to satisfy approximately 30% of the campus' energy needs. The system will be the largest solar power system constructed on a U.S. corporate campus and one of the largest on any corporate site in the world. Google has faced accusations in Harper's Magazine of being extremely excessive with their energy usage, and were accused of employing their "Don't be evil" motto as well as their very public energy saving campaigns as means of trying to cover up or make up for the massive amounts of energy their servers actually require.

As an interesting motivation technique (usually called Innovation Time Off), all Google engineers are encouraged to spend 20% of their work time (one day per week) on projects that interest them. Some of Google's newer services, such as Gmail, Google News, Orkut, and AdSense originated from these independent endeavors. In a talk at Stanford University, Marissa Mayer, Google's Vice President of Search Products and User Experience, stated that her analysis showed that half of the new product launches originated from the 20% time.

Google has a tradition of creating April Fool's Day jokes—such as Google MentalPlex, which allegedly featured the use of mental power to search the web. In 2002, they claimed that pigeons were the secret behind their growing search engine. In 2004, they featured Google Lunar (which claimed to feature jobs on the moon), and in 2005, a fictitious brain-boosting drink, termed Google Gulp was announced. In 2006, they came up with Google Romance, a hypothetical online dating service. In 2007, Google announced two joke products. The first was a free wireless Internet service called TiSP (Toilet Internet Service Provider) in which one obtained a connection by flushing one end of a fiber-optic cable down their toilet and waiting only an hour for a "Plumbing Hardware Dispatcher (PHD)" to connect it to the Internet. Additionally, Google's Gmail page displayed an announcement for Gmail Paper, which allows users of their free email service to have email messages printed and shipped to a snail mail address.

Google's services contain a number of Easter eggs; for instance, the Language Tools page offers the search interface in the Swedish Chef's "Bork bork bork," Pig Latin, "Hacker" (actually leetspeak), Elmer Fudd, and Klingon. In addition, the search engine calculator provides the Answer to Life, the Universe, and Everything from Douglas Adams' The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy. As Google’s search box can be used as a unit converter (as well as a calculator), some non-standard units are built in, such as the Smoot. Google also routinely modifies its logo in accordance with various holidays or special events throughout the year, such as Christmas, Mother's Day, or the birthdays of various notable individuals.

Many people speculated that Google's IPO would inevitably lead to changes in the company's culture, because of shareholder pressure for employee benefit reductions and short-term advances, or because a large number of the company's employees would suddenly become millionaires on paper. In a report given to potential investors, co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page promised that the IPO would not change the company's culture. Later Mr. Page said, "We think a lot about how to maintain our culture and the fun elements. We spent a lot of time getting our offices right. We think it's important to have a high density of people. People are packed together everywhere. We all share offices. We like this set of buildings because it's more like a densely packed university campus than a typical suburban office park." Google has faced allegations of sexism and ageism from former employees.

However, many analysts are finding that as Google grows, the company is becoming more "corporate". In 2005, articles in The New York Times and other sources began suggesting that Google had lost its anti-corporate, no evil philosophy. In an effort to maintain the company's unique culture, Google has designated a Chief Culture Officer in 2006, who also serves as the Director of Human Resources. The purpose of the Chief Culture Officer is to develop and maintain the culture and work on ways to keep true to the core values that the company was founded on in the beginning—a flat organization with a collaborative environment.

In 2004, Google formed a for-profit philanthropic wing, Google.org, with a start-up fund of US$1 billion. The express mission of the organization is to create awareness about climate change, global public health, and global poverty. One of its first projects is to develop a viable plug-in hybrid electric vehicle that can attain 100 mpg. The founding and current director is Dr. Larry Brilliant.

In 2008 Google announced its "project 10^100" which accepted ideas for how to help the community and then will allow google users to vote on their favorites.

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Source : Wikipedia