Google has a new parent company, Alphabet. But what exactly does Google Alphabet mean for you? Find out in our Google Alphabet FAQ.
What is Alphabet? Is Google dead?
What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you hear the word Google? Most likely, you’ll visualise the search engine that pops up as your browser's home page. That's not surprising, given that Google was born in 1998 as a research tool that brought order to the huge amount of information available on the web, making it easier to find specific data.
But Google is much more than a search engine company, and Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page's dreams are bigger than the web. They want to expand their views, invest in research, bring about new inventions and contribute to human progress.
Is their dream too ambitious? Perhaps.
Above all, Google is usually associated with search. Many investors and customers might wonder why a search engine is interested in making smart contact lenses, for example.
However, with the creation of a new umbrella company, Alphabet, Brin and Page’s dream might become true.
Rather than Google owning lots of little companies that have little in common with each other, a slimmed down Google will sit alongside those companies as a wholly owned subsidiary of new parent company Alphabet. Alphabet will be headed up by Brin and Page, as President and CEO respectively, while Sundar Pichai will take over as CEO of Google.
Alphabet will gather innovative ventures that focus on development and new technologies. The companies will finally be free from Google’s search stigma, and the co-founders will be able to manage more effectively the disparate areas.
What will Alphabet do?
Alphabet is going to allow Google’s co-founders to realise their ambitions. Page and Brin want to explore innovative sectors, leaving a mark in human history, and Alphabet will be their control tower.
The company will host a constellation of ventures, whose focus spans from lenses to drones. All will share a common goal: to improve our lives.
How can Alphabet improve our lives?
• Self-driving cars: Google’s autonomous vehicles are still being tested. When available, they are expected to be fundamental in reducing traffic- and car accidents.
• Delivery-drones for disaster relief: Google is testing autonomous aerial vehicles. The so-called Project Wing aims at developing drones that could deliver goods, such as medicines, in areas hit by war or natural disasters.
• Robots: Through the sub-company Boston Dynamic, Alphabet plans to develop cutting-edge robots.
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• Life extension: Created by Google in 2013, Calico is Google’s Life Extension Project. It is aimed at combating age-related diseases, such as cancer and neurodegeneration, and investing in drug development and innovative therapies.
• Artificial intelligence: DeepMind, purchased by Google in 2013, is a company that aims at creating ‘learning algorithms’, a man-made intelligence that could be applied to machines and used to get a deeper understanding of the human mind.
See also: Google AI project apes memory
• Exploration: Google Earth gives you a virtual image of the globe. It lets you navigate around the world without needing to leave your computer, but it is also useful to get directions, plan trips, locate public areas and get an up-to-date image of areas hit by hazards.
• Super-fast internet: Google Fiber provides high-speed internet and cable TV in many US cities. Its internet connection operates at 1Gb/s, allowing you to download a movie in less than two minutes.
• Intelligent (smart) glasses: Google Glass, a wearable device with an interactive display, was first released in 2013 in the US, but it was considered a failure due to its price and scarce availability. Now, the company is developing a second version of its smart glasses.
• Fight oppression: Google Ideas is a think tank that aims to use technology in order to solve problems faced by people who live in situations of conflict or repression.
• Virtual reality cameras: In collaboration with GoPro, Alphabet will develop Jump, a 360-camera rig that combines software and player to record virtual reality videos.
• Measure glucose levels: Life Science is a division of Google X that researches technological advancements within the life-science field. Google Contact Lens is one of its main projects. These smart lenses measure the glucose level of people with diabetes.
• Clean energy: Makani is a company supported by Alphabet that develops wind turbines to access wind at high altitudes and produce clean energy. Makani is a world leader in its sector.
• Safer homes: Nest Labs, owned by Alphabet, develops smart thermostats, smoke detectors and other security devices. Nest makes it easier for many people to better control their homes.
• Internet access for everyone: Project Loon is Alphabet’s initiative to create hig- altitude balloons that would provide internet access in rural areas. In 2014, Google also bought Titan Aerospace, the aerospace company that produces drones, which could bring internet connectivity to people in remote areas.
What's left for Google?
Don’t worry, Google is still alive and it will remain so for many years. Now a subsidiary of Alphabet, Google will continue to be a search engine. Plus we can expect great improvements, since the company will now focus only on internet-related products. And that can only be a good thing for the end user, who will now (hopefully) benefit from a better service for web research.