Google Serving 1 Billion Users Each Week

James Martin

Marissa Mayer
James Martin/File photo

As she rolled out Google Instant in San Francisco Wednesday, company executive Marissa Mayer gave an indication of the reach of Google's search engine and applications. She said that Google reaches a billion users each week, or nearly a sixth of the population on the planet (currently around 687,550,638 humans).

Over the last 12 years, Google has learned that speed plays a major role in user satisfaction. "Search at the speed of thought" and "results with every letter" is how Mayer described Google Instant, which she said can save users 2 to 5 seconds per search and is expected to save save 350 million hours of users' time in a year. Faster, and more relevant, results will mean more searches per user and preference versus the competition, such as Microsoft's Bing. Of course, it also means more advertising dollars in Google's coffers, which includes $30 billion in cash today.

In addition, the pile of data that Google, and other search engines, catalog is growing. Google expects to pass the zettabyte barrier, 1 billion terrabytes, which Google said is 1 million times more than what is stored in all the libraries in the U.S.

"Search is always on a journey to the ideal search engine that knows what you want," said Google principle engineer Ben Gomes at the search event. With all its success and growth, Google has become more complex and controversial, but it apparently hasn't lost sight of the ideal.

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    Dan has more than 20 years of journalism experience. He has served as editor in chief of CBSNews.com, CNET News, ZDNet, PC Week, and MacWeek.

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