Have you ever seen “Back to the Future,” or any time travel movie in which the main characters go back in time, change one small thing, and they completely mess up present day? This type of storytelling is called the “Butterfly Effect” and is defined as the phenomenon in which one small minute change has large scale effects elsewhere down the line. In time travel movies this device is used all the time to thrust our heroes into an adventure to save the future they once knew. But we’re going to use this device to imagine a world in which Google exists … but isn’t a search engine!  That’s right. what would the world be like if Google never got off the ground as a search engine and what direction would they have taken instead?

Search Engine Leader?

In order to figure out what the world would be like without Google, we need to take a trip down memory lane. First off, the leader in online search back in the late 1990s was Yahoo!  Without Google to knock them off its throne, Yahoo! more than likely would still be the leader in search today. Back in the ’90s, Yahoo! really had no competition. The only people who could really be considered as a contender against Yahoo would have been AOLs search or MSN’s search engine. Both search engines weren’t really that popular and thanks to the Internet moving away from dial-up, AOL was left to wither and die.

The only search engine that started attracting eyes away from Yahoo! besides Google was AskJeves.com. Though its changed the name to Ask.com, it never quite made the jump to superstar because Google took over. But If Yahoo! didn’t lose out to Google, it’s only competition would probably be Ask.com, which, if it played its cards right, could have beaten out Yahoo! and be the top search engine today. So in short, if there was no Google, Yahoo! would probably still be King unless AskJeves somehow did something magical to reign supreme.


1997 Yahoo homepage

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Hardware Bound!

So if Google did form as a company, what would they be doing? Let’s look at what other things Google loves to work on, mostly communication. More than likely Google would never have developed the Android operating system, and droid phones and tablets would never have existed. This of course is a great thing (I’m an Apple fanboy, what of it ;p) because we would all be using iPhones! But on a more serious note, if Google couldn’t help organize information on the Internet, it probably would have gotten into the tech hardware industry.

Google would probably still be at work creating a smartphone alternative to iPhone, but the question is would it have developed the android operating system? When the iPhone came out, it caught the smartphone market off guard. Up to that point BlackBerry was the closest thing to iPhone and even it looked decades old compared to what the iPhone introduced to the world.

At this point in the game Blackberry might have tried to redefine its products to create an operating system similar to Apple’s IOS. Maybe the Windows phone would actually be bigger today if it recognized that Apple had no real competition, maybe former Microsoft CEO Steve Balmar would have snapped the whip and gotten the game moving forward?

I mention all of this because if Google still existed outside of its search engine, it probably wouldn’t have had the resources to thrown out the Android operating system as quickly as it did. I have a feeling someone would have beaten them to the punch and that mobile operating system would have become the big No. Two in the world of smartphones. If that is the case, Google probably would have started creating hardware that operates on that No. 2 mobile operating system, and I think could replace Samsung as the big iPhone competitor phone. Sure, Google has the Nexus line out now, and doesn’t compare to Samsung, but I think all the resources Google used to create the Android operating system would instead be used to create even better hardware.


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Google becomes Samsung?

Many folks might be saying, “but Google Founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin weren’t interested in Hardware, they were more interested in software applications; especially in the dawn of the Internet.” You’re right, and that’s why they created a search engine. But if Google didn’t become the Google we know than there would have had to be a change at the very foundation. Or in other words, Larry Page and Sergey Brin wouldn’t be interested in software application and the logical alternative to software is hardware. So Larry Page and Sergey Brin would have been dead focused on building their computers, building new digital technologies and would have been more like Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak.

Where do you think Google would be today if it didn’t go down the path of becoming a search engine? Would it still be interested in information and have developed some new awesome dictionary? Let me know in the comments below!