Happy 13th birthday, Google!

September 27, 2011

Google turned 13 on Tuesday, and the company has celebrated its birthday with a doodle, as it has since 2002.

Mashable reported that the actual date of Google’s birthday has floated around the calendar in the past, Sept. 27, however, is the day that Google has celebrated. Its Web page on the subject reportedly used to say, “Google opened its doors in September 1998. The exact date when we celebrate our birthday has moved around over the years, depending on when people feel like having cake,” according to the Guardian.

Tuesday’s Google doodle shows off the company’s logo as it was in its early years, right down to the Yahoo-esque exclamation point. Today, the company in headed into its teenage years with the same combination of awkwardness and bravado you could hear in the halls of any middle school in the country.

Just, you know, with billions of dollars.

Here are three ways that Google is like a gawky teenager, with some angst thrown in:

It’s trying to be more social: Google+ has seen a second wave of memberships since ditching its invite-only status. Paul Allen, a genealogist on Google+ who has become the network’s unofficial statistician, estimates that the network now has a user base of 50 million. It’s not clear how many people are actively using the network, especially since the point of Google+ is that you don’t have to share everything publicly. But 30 million, while not nearly as much as Facebook’s 800 million, is nothing to sneeze at considering the network has only been around for a few months.

It’s got its hands into a little bit of everything: Travel. Shopping. Coupons. Maps. Mobile. Google is dabbling in a lot of things, as teenagers are wont to do. The problem when you’re Google and the dominant force in search, is that dabbling draws a lot of antitrust criticism. So much criticism, in fact, that Google had to send its chairman, Eric Schmidt, to Congress last week to defend its practices. Schmidt said over and over again that Google’s main aim is to serve its consumers, while its competitors said it’s more of a bully than an honors student.

It’s facing tough peers: Google is dealing with rivalries on all sides , especially from Facebook and Apple. As its Android platform takes a larger share of the market — 43 percent of new smartphone buyers by Nielsen’s latest numbers — it’s also facing a coming storm of patent litigation. Schmidt also mentioned Facebook specifically as a competitor in his hearing testimony, and that competitive duel will only get worse as the social network builds out its entertainment hub.

Related stories:

More technology coverage from The Post

Share your ‘circles’ with other Google Plus users

Google Plus, now for everyone

Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
Comments
Show Comments

Sign up for Today's Headlines

Start every morning with the most important stories.

Most Read Business