Books: Where does Google go now?

We couldn't imagine life without it, but after a decade at the top, is there trouble on the horizon for the ubiquitous search engine? John Naughton lauds an expert view.

Few companies become so embedded in our culture that they change the language. Hoover, a vacuum-cleaner manufacturer, is one that springs to mind. McDonald's is another - as testified by the way the prefix 'Mc' (as in McJobs, McMansions etc) is used to denote anything that is impermanent, insubstantial or just plain tawdry.

But it took a long time for these companies to enter the language of everyday discourse. The extraordinary thing about Google is that it managed to achieve the same effect so quickly.

It's just 10 years old as a company, and yet within five years of its birth the verb 'to Google' was firmly established as a universal shorthand for any kind of rapid, successful online inquiry. In the period immediately after the first plane struck on 9/11, when Google was just three years old, the top query on its search engine was 'CNN.com' - which implied that even then, users had more confidence in Google's ability to find the right URL for the Cable News Network than they had in their own capacity to remember it.

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