Recently I procured the latest mobile phone offering from Google, the Nexus 5, having left its predecessor in the back of a taxi. At the time, I assumed this was due to a level of obliviousness brought on by drinking solidly for several hours, but in hindsight, I feel it may have been a deliberate, albeit subconscious decision, a vain attempt to free myself from the ever-increasing omnipotence of the phone's creator.
By purchasing the 'smart home' application manufacturer Nest last week, Google signalled their intent to take the leap from your screen to your house. Sure, Nest's biggest innovations so far - a fire alarm and a thermostat - may appear fairly unobtrusive and innocuous. After all, why not have something that you can text when you're about to head home to start heating the house up?
The thing is though, by the time the technology becomes commonplace, you probably won't even need to text. The odds are that whatever phone you're using will be running Google's Android operating system, which will pick up your current location wherever you are. This information will then be run through Google's traffic calculator, which will beam a constantly updating prediction of your ETA, allowing your thermostat to adjust to ensure that you will be hit with just the right temperature as you walk in the door.
Clearly this as a good thing, an undeniable convenience and luxury after a long day at work. But isn't it just a little creepy? And if you're thinking that this is the same tinfoil hat fantasy that's followed around every leading tech company at one point or another, you need only look at what Google's already doing. Take Google Now, an information app that comes pre-installed on the latest version of Android. Without any prompting, Now can figure out where you live, where you work, the route and method of transport you take most frequently, and then feed you information about how long you can expect that evening's commute to take, all with no prompting from, and without the knowledge of the user.
It's not just the home that Google are taking over, and it isn't just a case of not buying a Nest blender or whatever they come up with next in order to avoid the Big G's nefarious grasp. For the vast majority of us, the internet is now a fact of life, something we access unthinkingly and with astonishing regularity, and, more often than not, Google is the filter through which we view it.
The company still has the underdog vibe going for it, in the phone arena at least; they're still the plucky newcomer attempting to dethrone the heavyweight champion Apple. However, while the iPhone is still the biggest selling singular phone range, Google's Android operating system now dominates the market overall. Their browser, Chrome, is the most popular in the world, and their Gmail email service and Drive suite of document software are gradually taking bigger bites out of Microsoft's offerings.
Truly, the only sphere where Google can be seen to have failed is social media, with their Google+ platform lagging behind its major rivals and even the likes of LinkedIn as of mid-2013. Having come late to the social party, Google have been playing catch-up ever since, recently trying to force users' hands by making an account necessary to comment on YouTube videos. However, this is a rare blot on an otherwise intimidatingly pristine copybook.
While their competitors are busy down in the muck, trading roundhouse punches in the hope that one will land and give them the perfect formula for the latest tech trend (see the laboured and so far fruitless search for the first truly practical smartwatch), Google sails serenely above the mess by focusing their attention on what co-founder Larry Page refers to as "moon shots", futuristic projects that may not be commercially viable for years, if ever. These projects - ranging from contact lenses to self-driving cars - are frequently packaged in the reassuring rhetoric of altruistic thinking, and in many cases, that is the case - but it will come at a cost of letting Google know that little bit more about your habits.
It's not just the question of increasingly precise adverts pervading your consciousness at every opportunity. With last year's revelations of comprehensive spying by the US government, wariness of such clandestine activity should be at a high - and yet there seems to be little reticence when it comes to allowing Google to collect vast swathes of information.
In films or novels dealing with the totalitarian states of the future, we're rarely indulged with the details of how the ruling class achieved their position. Few would have considered a company that 10 years ago was competing with a digital butler website a likely Skynet equivalent, but following their recent purchase of the robot-producing Boston Dynamincs, many were quick to point out the similarities. The company's unofficial motto, "Don't be evil", is designed to reflect their fun-loving image and their egalitarian research, but in this context it comes across like a second-rate Bond villain's feeble attempt to legitimise his death ray company.
The site GoogleWorldDomination was started in 2004 and predicted that by the end of this year, the world would belong to Google. While that may be slightly premature - and somewhat hyperbolic - it's food for thought nonetheless.Suggest a correction