On Wednesday, The Verge released its annual “trust survey” of tech brands. There is a lot of interesting information about how consumers feel about various companies, but maybe the most interesting is that the company viewed favorably by the largest number of people is Google.
It’s probably worth mentioning that the next brand on the list is YouTube, which is also owned by Google. More than Apple, Microsoft, or Amazon, people have a favorable opinion of Google.
That’s a little surprising. After all, people love their iPhones and they do a lot of shopping on Amazon–especially over the last 18 months. There are millions of companies that depend on Microsoft’s operating system and enterprise services.
And yet, when asked whether they have a favorable or unfavorable opinion of various tech companies, Google gets the highest score. Of course, part of that could be that Google hasn’t had some of the same problems that other tech companies have faced.
Google has never been the source of a massive data breach affecting its users. Its search engine isn’t seen as amplifying divisive content or misinformation in the way that other social platforms do. It also has avoided criticisms facing some tech companies that they put the bottom line before the wellbeing of their users.
Even YouTube, which arguably does just that, manages to mostly stay above the fray–and, as a result–above the level of scrutiny facing its peers. Yes, Google has the same privacy concerns as other companies that collect your information, but the reality is that the average user almost never thinks about that.
There’s a reason for that, and it’s honestly quite simple. In many areas of people’s lives, Google is the default. That one word is extremely powerful and even more valuable as a business.
Google is the default search engine for most people. It’s the default email service. It’s the default web browser. It’s where people go for directions, to find a nearby restaurant, or to make travel plans.
That word is powerful, and I think it explains the reason people have such a high opinion of Google, compared with other tech companies. Google is a sort of utility for most people in the sense that they use Google’s services without thinking about Google other than the fact that it’s the place you go for all of those important pieces of their personal tech stack.
Google Search is the perfect example. Not only does Google Search have a 92 percent market share, it has 100 percent mindshare when it comes to answering the question “where do I find information about, well, anything?”
“Google it,” is the obvious–and default–answer.
I’ve written in the past about the value of being the default option in people’s lives. It’s easily the most powerful position a company can obtain and Google has made itself the default better than any other.
Apple might make the world’s most popular smartphone, but the iPhone isn’t the default. There are a lot of people who would never buy an iPhone or a Mac. There are a lot of people who would rather shop at Target than Amazon. For that matter, there are plenty of people that believe Amazon is killing small businesses and make an intentional choice to shop local as often as possible.
Sure, Apple is the most valuable company on the planet, and Amazon is the world’s largest online shopping website, but neither is the default in the way Google is. Almost no one uses Microsoft’s search engine, Bing, and the ones that do, are apparently searching for Google anyway.
That’s an important distinction and I think it has everything to do with why 90 percent of people say they have a positive view of Google, and 70 percent say they believe it has a positive impact on society. Google adds value to their lives. As a result, everyone is happy to keep it as the default, and that’s very good for Google.