Prior to the turn of the Millennium, companies feared the so-called ‘Millennium Bug’ that could put the world to a stand still, destroying computer infrastructures. Luckily this did not happen and over the past ten years we have seen a lot of major developments. In 2000 the Internet was still a small entity compared to today. If you compare it to ten years ago, when it was born in 1991, and to the year 2010 you will find the Internet has come an extremely long way. In the past ten years online companies have flourished from huge e-commerce stores to small businesses. These businesses all want to have an online front and appear highly ranked on Google. Due to this demand many Website Design and SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) companies have been born.
Website Design has improved due to cheaper and faster Internet speeds. With the introduction of Broadband we can now have websites with much higher file sizes, which allows us to use better quality images, flash animations & Web Video. This is known as Web 2.0.
This blog post looks into a few of the biggest online companies around, who have become household names. Some existed before the turn of the Millennium and a couple have emerged over the past few years. Their website design has not actually changed a great deal within these sites but they have started to use a lot of new media to promote their products, such as web videos, movie trailers, sound clips and animated banners.
Google – Search Engine
Google has become the number one choice of search engines for the majority of Internet users due to its simple and clean design. In 2000 Google began to sell adverts know as ad-words. These adverts are associated with Keywords searched by the users. The adverts are text based advertisements, this is so they keep the clean uncluttered look on the Google website.
Companies can advertise with Google with a combination of clicks and bids starting from 5 pence a click. There is no way of finding out what you competitor is spending, so if you were to offer 25 pence a click there is a possibility you will have a higher listing and so on.
Search engine optimisation companies such as Creare specialise in listing your site at the top of Google and other major search engines without the need of getting into a bidding war.
In 2001 Google patented the term Page Rank, a number between 1-10, which they give to websites depending on the websites popularity. Google is a lot more than just a search engine. In 2004 they purchased Keyhole Inc who developed Earth viewer. This was later re-named to become Google Earth in 2005.
In late 2006 Google bought the online video site YouTube for $1.65 Billion. In the same year Google & Fox interactive media partnered in a $900 million agreement to implement a search facility on the popular social networking website ‘MySpace’, as well as using it as a platform for their advertising.
In 2007 Google started to make partnerships with Microsoft, Nokia and Sony Ericsson with .mobi domain names. They then launched Ad-sense for mobile, which allowed their partners to monitor adverts on mobile phones & devices. Google then purchased zingku.mobi, a mobile networking site, which would allow people to easily access Google applications on their mobile phones.
In 2008 Google launched a Satellite in partnership with GeoEye. This satellite contained a high-resolution camera, which could photograph the world to create Google Earth. Google has many other popular applications such as Google maps. This has become the most popular online mapping software overtaking multi-map, Google Webmaster tools, and Google Analytics, as well as the popular email service G-mail.
Google have recently launched the open source web browser Google chrome and a mobile phone operating system to compete with the Apple iPhone. Google now runs servers all over the world and employs 19,768 employees as of 2009.
Amazon – Ecommerce Website
Over the past ten years we have seen a growth in online companies such as Amazon, who started as a basic online bookstore. While many static shops could stock up to 200,000 books Amazon could offer more, with a fantastic search facility allowing you to search for more or less any book in publication.
In 2000 Amazon changed their logo to contain an arrow, which points from the A to the Z, highlighting that they stock every book in the alphabet.
Until 2006 Amazon owned the domain name toysrus.com, which would re-direct you to their toy section on Amazon. This was terminated with a lawsuit on the 30th June 2006.
From personal experience I remember such addresses as waterstones.com would go directly to the Amazon website. In this instance I believe they would have a business relationship with Waterstones like they did with Borders.
As the software developed for the Amazon website was so advanced they were able to sell it to other companies such as Marks & Spencer, Mothercare & Lacoste. The systems in place allow customers to use an easy and manoeuvrable search facility within their websites, and give the customer access to these stores and their available services.
In 2001 Amazon Market place was introduced, which allowed customers to sell used books, CDs, videos and other items. This therefore made their service even better, as you could find items that were un-available directly from Amazon such as limited edition items, or products that have been removed from production. This all happened after the failing of their online auction site, which was due to their biggest rival eBay.
From this they introduced Amazon associates, which allows other companies to sell on Amazon. This gives customers a good reassurance as they are purchasing their goods from such an acclaimed online store.
Amazon now has 1.3 million sellers using this service and unlike eBay they do not have to use a separate payment service. In 2008 Amazon launched their digital download service for mp3s.
This was to compete with iTunes. The benefit with buying Amazons mp3s is that they are compatible with every mp3 player, unlike iTunes, which are only compatible with Apple products.
One of Amazons most useful websites, in my opinion would have to be IMDB (International Movie Data Base). Whenever I watch a film and see an actor and think what film was he or she in, I am able to check it out on IMDB and find the answer.
This was actually purchased by Amazon in 1998. This was a very good move, as I would not like to think how much this site is worth, and they are able to easily fill it with adverts linking back to their Amazon websites!
eBay – Online Auction Website
The brainchild of eBay was computer programmer Pierre Omidyar. He wanted to help his fiancée trade Pez sweet dispensers, as she was an avid collector.
He created a website where people can search for and buy anything, such as items you can purchase in a local shop, but bid and pay half of the original price.
You can also find rare and antique items, which people spend many and hour searching high and low for, at the touch of a button.
Once you find what you are looking for there are several ways to purchase the item, depending on the seller’s options. You will either have to get into a bidding war to win the item or there may be the option to ‘buy it now’. If you choose to buy it now you are guaranteed the item but sacrifice the option of bidding and possibly obtaining the item at a cheaper price.
Once you have won your item (once gain depending on the sellers options) you can send a cheque, postal order or use a credit/debit card using an online payment gateway, such as Nochex or PayPal to pay for your purchase. In October 2002 eBay bought PayPal which is now widely used by millions of people.
In September 2005 eBay also purchased the VOIP software Skype, which allowed people to talk over the Internet for free or to land lines for a much lower rate than conventional phone companies. This cost them $2.6 billion.
They then sold 70% of the Skype business for $2.7 billion in 2008 and held on to 30% of the revenue.
Listing items on eBay now, compared to ten years ago, allows you to imbed a variety of rich media. Including items such as web videos from YouTube and MySpace and images from Auctivia an online picture gallery. In 2008 they purchased VuVox, which allows the customer to mix their online media to their own specification to create online showcases.
YouTube – Web Video
I have already touched upon YouTube in the Google and eBay section of this blog post. Three former PayPal employees created it in 2005. It is said the idea came about when they were trying to share videos of a dinner party which two of them had attended, but had no way or means of doing so. As there were no other websites like it YouTube was born. This allowed users to register and upload their own videos to a universal website.
As long as users abide by YouTube’s guidelines, these videos can then be embedded on users personal websites. By 2006 the company reported that over 65,000 videos were being uploaded each day and also 100 million videos were being viewed each day.
In 2008 YouTube signed an agreement with MGM, Lions Gare & CBS enabling them to upload full-length movies and shows to YouTube alongside adverts in a section called ‘shows’.
In November 2009 a UK version of ‘shows’ was launched with over 4,000 shows being available. Channel 4 was one of the first companies to sign up to this and it was estimated in 2009 YouTube was getting over a billion hits a day and 20 hours of footage was uploaded every minute.
Facebook – Social Media Website
I will now finish this blog post with the most recent and one of the most well known websites, Facebook. This is now the most popular social networking website and has taken over from MySpace & Friends Reunited.
Its creator Mark Zuckerberg launched Facebook in 2004 from a Harvard University Dormitory. It was originally limited to students from Harvard and then Stanford, before going world wide with the help of PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel. Peter Thiel invested $500,000 into the website, then the following year $12.7 million was provided by Accel Partners and an impressive $27.5 million by Greylock Partners.
Facebook allows users to find old school friends, colleagues, family and friends all over the world.
One of the main features includes creating photo albums in which you can tag your friends in the many photos you upload. This will then link through to your friends’ own Facebook account. You can send private messages and write publicly on users ‘walls’, upload videos and also interact with other users with online games and applications.
The difference between Facebook and MySpace is that you cannot change any html or style sheets within Facebook, unlike MySpace. This means every users account looks the same adding to the simplicity of interacting with your friends and family.
Recently Facebook launched the use of shortened URLs such as Creare’s Facebook www.facebook.com/crearegroup, which makes people and companies a lot more accessible.
Facebook is free to use and makes all of its revenue from banner advertisements. They use Microsoft as an exclusive partner who own 1.6% of the shares in the website. This cost Microsoft $240 million.
Facebook has caused a lot of controversy being banned in schools, workplaces and even countries such as China, Iran and Vietnam. The company has become worth between $3.75 and $5 billion in just over 5 years.
This just goes to show how much money there is to be made with a website on the World Wide Web we just need to come up with that new idea…