A delighted Tanaiste Mary Harney said Google, with the support of Ireland’s Investment and Development Agency, would open the center and initially create 200 jobs.
“This is fantastic news for Ireland,” Harney said. “Google is truly a household name for Internet searching and its decision to locate in Dublin positions Ireland as a prime location for global Internet services.”
For a company and service that is a conduit for an enormous flow of information, data and verbiage, Google remained tightlipped about the development and did not comment beyond saying that the new center would be a significant link in developing its business into Europe, the Middle East and Africa.
Google’s spokesperson confirmed that it would locate servers and networking equipment in Ireland for the new outpost. Zurich is believed to have been the only other competitor for the new Google office.
Since the economic downturn of 2000, Ireland has about 20 call centers, half of which are sitting idle, according to IDA spokesman Colin Donlon.
The meeting of Google and Ireland is not so surprising, considering that the Celtic Tiger and the world’s most successful search engine are both Internet youngsters.
One of the main driving factors behind Ireland’s Celtic Tiger boom economy of the 1990s was the huge investment in the country by U.S. technology firms, some of which have now closed shop in Ireland.
Google took off just as the world of the start-up was collapsing and is both a private California-founded company and a search engine that in a little over three years has achieved brand recognition comparable with Coca Cola or Marlboro around the world.
More than half of all Internet searches are conducted using Google today, requiring massive amounts of computing power. More than 15.5 million people use the search engine per week.
Google’s search technique is uniquely simple. As the company itself has explained repeatedly, the Internet is a series of links, billions of links:
“Google interprets a link from page A to page B as a vote, by page A, for page B. But, Google looks at more than the sheer volume of votes, or links a page receives. It also analyzes the page that casts the vote.”
Recently Google rocked the world of the Internet once more by setting up a news service. Fifteen servers sit in California and trawl the Internet repeatedly 24 hours a day for news. Based on more than 4,000 news sites considered “authoritative,” such as the New York Times, the Washington Post and the BBC, Google News then ranks the latest news stories without the intervention of any human editorial hand.
The news service manages to figure out what is current news and then places the stories on its web site (news.google.com).
The search engine’s meteoric rise to prominence has already set of alarm bells with some Internet watchers, however.
Recently Google bought Pyra, the company that started the website Blogger.com. Blogger allows anyone to set up their own blog (web log) and start publishing on the Internet without the need for any high-tech skills.
This means that now Google has access to the sites or areas of the Internet where all the latest fads, trends, developments and news is talked over and fought about: it is exactly where to be to hear the first whispers of whatever the “next big thing” is.
But Google’s ranking system has its flaws: in essence, what its theory states is that if the National Enquirer sells four times more copies than the National Geographic, then it is more authoritative.
There are new fears about privacy too.
BBC net watcher Bill Thompson warned: “[Google] will store your computer’s IP address, the time/date, your browser details and the item you search for. It sets a tracking cookie on your computer that does not expire until 2038.
“This means that Google builds up a detailed profile of your search terms over many years. Google probably knew when you last thought you were pregnant, what diseases your children have had, and who your divorce lawyer is.”
The terms of Google’s move were finalized in an appropriately Irish and Californian way: Tanaiste Mary Harney flew to the Golden State for a long weekend to finalize details with senior Google representatives.
Harney pointed to the long-term commitment of the Irish government to developing Ireland’s Internet connectivity as the reason why when Google typed in “new location” the search result came out: “Ireland.”