A recent conversation with my 4th grade daughter:
"Dad, do you have Google Earth on your laptop?"
"Sure, sweetie, why?...how do you know about Google Earth?"
"We use it at school and I want to check some stuff out. Can I use it for a minute?"
"O.k. Do you want me to help you with it?"
"No, thanks, Dad. I'm not dumb. Everyone knows how to use Google Earth."
"Uh, ok. Here you go."
OK, so it shouldn't be a surprise to anyone that a fourth grader is more capable with a computer than most adults, but as I had this discussion with my daughter, I came to the stark realization that Google's brand will likely grow even stronger with the rising generation. I'm not saying their place is cemented--it's a competitive marketplace and things happen, they could drop the ball and betray their customers' trust, or something might come along that will erode their market share--but by simply doing things the "Google way", they are silently building the solid foundation of a brand in the hearts and minds of the next generation of consumers.
Even the most devoted Googler I know can remember back to a time when "search engine" meant something more than Google. In fact, most of us got our start on AltaVista, Lycos, Webcrawler, or my personal favorite Infoseek. We switch to Google because it did a better job of finding what we were looking for. The other search engines are now just as good at finding what we're looking for, but nobody cares. Google works, so we don't have any reason to switch.
My kids, on the other hand, don't know any other search engine besides Google. For them Google is search. Not only that, but now Google is becoming more than search with Google Earth, Picasa, YouTube, etc. All these other Google products and brand simply reinforce the strength of Google's brand. Everybody loves Google because Google just works--it's easy, it's accurate, it's cool, it's fun. Google would be huge on it's own (it's worked so far), but how big can Google grow if they've got a whole army of educators embedding their brand in the minds of our children?
They didn't ask to be promoted in schools across the world. Is it their fault if they create cool stuff that people flock to in droves?