Yi Essay 2

Trademarked: Google

There are a number of companies out there that are the best at what they do. There are other companies that “pioneered” a new way of cultural standards and norms simply through the effects made by their products and/or services. These outstanding companies not only provided a top quality service or product, but their products became so ingrained in society that all products of that nature (even if coming from a different company) were automatically termed by the first company’s name. People had issues with this sort of thing happening because of the monopolization of the respective industries.


Here are multiple common products that have become the generic term for all other like products:

Aspirin

Aspirin is a common drug found in almost every American household. It is used to reduce pain and even prevent heart attacks. Made from acetylsalicylic acid, “aspirin” is the commonly accepted term for the white tablet used by millions to treat headaches. In 1897, a drug and dye firm named Bayer researched the use of acetylsalicylic acid as an alternate to existing medicines. They named their product “Aspirin” and it quickly became a popular over-the-counter medication across the world.

Xerox

To “Xerox” something is to use a photocopy machine to produce copies of a document. Many Americans grew up assuming that the term, “Xerox,” was the a verb analogous to “to photocopy.” Xerox is a company founded in the early 20th century that made photocopying easier for offices. The machines they produced were smaller and sleeker than existing models and made office work much easier. Many dictionaries include “xerox” as a generic form of “to copy.” The company, Xerox, is fighting to keep their name trademarked.

Styrofoam

Nowadays, any polystyrene foam is called “styrofoam.” This goes for styrofoam cups, thermal coolers, and packing material. Dow Chemical Company first produced this type of extruded polystyrene foam and trademarked the name. Because of its insulation and buoyancy properties, Styrofoam was intended to be used for life rafts and building insulation materials.

Escalator

Almost every American has seen or has ridden on an escalator. They are in places where many people need to move around quickly. You will find escalators in airports, subway stations, and shopping malls. Originally, the escalator was a trademarked term coined by the Otis Elevator Company.
Trampoline

Nobody uses the term “rebound tumbler” to refer to the trampoline. In fact, we use the term “trampoline” to refer to rebound tumblers. George Nissen trademarked “Trampoline” in the 1930’s to be used in gymnastics and acrobatic performances.


However, if a particular company is first to produce a product, or their product is deemed high above others, it’s reasonable to expect people to use that product as a standard for all others. Is this a bad thing? For some consumers, no, they could care less. For the actual companies who have their trademarked product names generalized and diluted through overuse and over application, this may pose a real issue. But, does this trademark name issue create a new one: that our culture is willing to create new terms and verbs based on a single company’s influence? More importantly, Google will be closely inspected and its effect on today’s technological world will be assessed. From a “regular” consumer’s view, Google has everything most people need. Is it really so bad that Google is “taking over” the Internet world? As long as it suits the needs of a customer and provides elite performance, there will be willing consumption by the majority of Internet users.


Typically, Americans don’t seem to have issues with this phenomenon and have accepted the generalization of branded terms. The fact that terms like Aspirin, Trampoline, Styrofoam, and Google now have lowercase forms shows that they have ceased to be proper nouns.


Google

We can all admit that Google has become pervasive in our culture. Google isn’t just a search website, but it’s an online lifestyle. You can ask Google to manage your mail, use Google to make documents, and now we can all use Google through many mediums: Internet browsers, our cell phones, and even through other websites. Many Internet users apply the term “google” to indicate an online search. Even if someone is doing a search on a different search engine, the act of doing is often called “googling.”

How It All Started

As many of us know, Google started off small. A few students from Stanford (Larry Page and Sergey Brin) created a website called BackRub, operating on Stanford servers, that was designed to “traverse the web.” Page and Brin decided to change their website name and decided on “Google,” which was a play on the number, googol. Googol is a number represented by a 1, followed by 100 zeros. This implies that their website is capable of organizing a massive amount of information for users. (Google)

Growth

As Google grew, their website was becoming more accessible and starts dabbling in new areas of Internet usage. In the May of 2000, “10 language versions of Google.com were released: French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish” (Google). Google started partnering with other companies like Yahoo! and AOL to further expand their company’s services. Along with Internet searches, Google launched an image search option that offers access to 250 million images. The launch of Gmail really put Google on the map by offering an email service that provided 1GB of memory for registered users and was initially available by exclusive invite by other Gmail users. A few years after the launch of Gmail, Google allows Gmail users to chat with other Gmail users with their email accounts.

Google soon establishes offices in countries such as Ireland, Australia, and Japan, and their research and development focus grows substantially. Google started off by catering to the individual home user, but expanded to accommodate for business by providing Google Apps, Google Finance, and Google Docs (along with Presently, a new application for making slide presentations). Google even dabbled in the scholastic world by offering Google Books. In 2007, Google leapt out of cyberspace and into our roads with Street View, which provided users with an eye level streetscape to get visual clues on where one is travelling.

Relevance

Why has Google “dipped its toe” in so many fields and corners of the Internet? There are needs to be met by Internet users and Google simply took the necessary steps to accommodate every one of those needs. People want to find scintillating things on the web, so do a search—Google is there. Now they want an email provider, a map generator, document organizer, and for the endless demand, Google is seemingly providing all the supply.

For some, it seems as though Google is the only company providing the supply. Yes, there are many companies out there that do what Google does, but what company can say they provide all the services Google can? Say, how many companies can claim that they do even one of the many services Google does, better than Google? Not too many, but companies are trying to catch up. The bottom line is: Google, like it or not, does it best. That doesn’t mean that this essay is advocating everything Google is and what it represents—it’s just that Google is good at what it does and probably deserves to have a trademarked name that is established as a household term.

Criticism

As mentioned before, all of the things Google provides is conveniently beneficial for the individual user, and this essay was written from the point of view of an individual user. However, if we dig below the surface, we see the effects of Google’s ability to provide such great resources for the user. In Auletta’s book, Googled, he says,

Google knew that only about a third of the more than twenty million books ever published were no longer protected under copyright. But the mission was to scan all books. With books under copyright, Google said it would merely show “snippets,” which it claimed was permissible under the fair use clause of copyright law. (Auletta 123)

This caused a big disruption in the publishing world, and those under concern said that books would soon fall under the heads of “hackers” and books would turn into downloadable, pirated files much like mp3s. Many authors and publishing companies could easily lose money from the loss of sales.

Other than intruding upon intellectual property, Google was criticized for exposing individual privacy way too much. Google Maps and Street View were controversial services that caused people to feel as though they were violated. Their lives and homes were exposed to millions of online users and naturally, many people disliked such a notion. Additionally, people found it disconcerting that Google is able to store massive amounts of personal information about an individual. In 2007, Privacy International ranked Google as “Hostile to Privacy,” it’s lowest ranking, in their Consultation Report.


Conclusion

So, with all things considered, we must ask: For the large majority of online Google users, is Google a bad thing? Google has its problems and some are certainly severe, but for the rest of the world, Google is a great resource. Google has done so well that it’s a household name and a plain Times New Roman logo hasn’t ever looked that welcoming. As a ‘casual’ Google user, I must admit that I turn to Google first when I need to find something online. I immediately resort to Google Maps to find a location and I use Gmail like it’s my job. Youtube.com and Wikipedia, which are partnered with Google are some of my favorite information sources, however capricious and unreliable as they may be. In the mind of many Internet users, Google is basically a monopoly in terms of Internet presence, but it hasn’t bothered most of them and honestly, it doesn’t bother me all that much. This class has made me more aware of what I should be thinking about, but ultimately, I want something and Google can usually provide.


Works Cited

“Aspirin.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 7 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aspirin>
Auletta, Ken. Googled: the End of the World as We Know It. New York: Penguin, 2009. Print.
“Corporate Milestones.” Google. 4 May 2010. <http://www.google.com/corporate/history.html>
“Criticism of Google.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 4 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Criticism_of_Google>
“Escalator.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 6 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escalator>
“List of generic and genericized trademarks.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 7 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_generic_and_genericized_trademarks>
“Trampoline.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 7 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trampoline>
“Styrofoam.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 7 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Styrofoam>
“Xerox.” Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. 7 May 2010. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Xerox>

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