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Google: Handling Power Responsibly

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How to remove the negatives from worldwide dominance.

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Editor's Note: Welcome to Love It or Hate It, a regular dual-column feature that will capture the love-hate relationship America has with some of its biggest, most controversial companies. For past columns, click here. For the opposing view on this company, see Google: Snobby, Sanctimonious, Loathsome.


Big business has begotten some truly despicable characters, both fictional and factual: Bernie Madoff, J.R. Ewing, Henry Clay Frick, Ebeneezer Scrooge, to name just a few. To think of the heads of some of the biggest corporations in the world is to conjure the image of greedy white men denying personal vacation time to a mother of four.

But somehow, one global powerhouse of a company has effectively avoided the headstrong indiscretions of a brand with limitless clout and profits. It continually offers tremendous products with endless potential and often at no cost. Its innovations have pushed technology and online development to the very limit and beyond. And its employees are treated to an environment which has been rated the absolute best place to work.

The gold standard of how a big business should be run: Google (GOOG).

If you were to take a brief moment to count the multitude of ways Google has influenced your life in a positive way, the moment would cease to be "brief." The company has broadened its scope to virtually every facet of human existence, but rarely falls short of delivering a great product.

Google went from a plucky, no frills site with a great algorithm to become a household name and the Internet's unofficial search engine. No matter how many so-called "Google Killers" the media touts prior to their launch, they invariably boil down to style over substance, hype over execution.

While competition is crucial in every field -- and search is no exception -- the upstarts don't even come close. Even big names like Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo (YHOO), and Ask.com (IACI) have put forth valiant efforts -- Microsoft's Bing could someday be a contender -- but still fail to nip at the heels of Google's versatile search.

Its suite of online apps is a spectacular array of cloud computing and demonstrates where the industry is headed.

Gmail has redefined how web-based email should be designed: Simple interface with a more-than-adequate online storage, chat integration, in-depth contact info, and a powerful search. As for me, I couldn't imagine trying to work with a desktop application for email ever again.

In terms of fast and accessible word processing, Google Docs is stellar. Google Reader organizes RSS feeds with aplomb. And Google Calendar makes scheduling a breeze. Google's online apps basically take away the need to open desktop programs other than a browser.

Maybe Google Chrome, in fact.
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