Google. It is a word that defies language barriers and is internationally recognised and universally understood. I have yet to encounter a person who has not heard of Google, and when I say this I am not only thinking in terms of my South African experience. I have encountered five year old Korean children who would tell me to Google things. The word Google crops up in everyday conversations, and even though there are tons of other search engines available (Yahoo, MSN, Bing, etc.), Internet search has pretty much becoming synonymous with Googling. And yet, Google is so much more than just a search engine. I embraced the wide range of Google products awhile back and have never regretted it. So what else does Google have to offer?

One of the most popular Google products (aside from their search engine) is their mail system, Gmail. I should probably admit at this point that I do have a Gmail address, but I also have a Hotmail one, a Yahoo one and even, at some point, had a Webmail one. And yet, my Gmail address is the one that I use most often, the one that I hand out to other people and the one that I would undeniably call my favourite. Why do I like Gmail so much? Well, I think that it’s the simplicity. It took me a long while to discover Gmail, and I had been through a number of other systems before I did (thus the large number of email addresses), but once I did, I found it so easy to use and so well organised that I didn’t want to turn back. There are few fancy gimmicks and there have been few changes over the 6 years that I have had the address, and I appreciate that. In my view, if something is broken, there is no point in trying to fix it. And hand in hand with the mail system comes Google’s chat program, which works just as well and is equally simplistic and easy to use.

But Google’s reach doesn’t end there. They try to accommodate every passion, every hobby and every aspect of their users life. This is done through a number of other areas that Google has covered including blog writing with Blogger/Blogspot, blog reading with Google Reader, blog sharing (and sharing of every other aspect of your social life) with Google Plus and photo sharing with Picasa Online Web Albums. Google tries to offer alternatives to other popular sites (WordPress, Facebook and Flickr for example) and manages to do a fairly good job of it!

So, next time you think of Google, I hope you don’t just think of the search engine, because it really is so much more than that.

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