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Is Google’s Hegemonic Long Years of Being a Search Engine Ending?by@techoy
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Is Google’s Hegemonic Long Years of Being a Search Engine Ending?

by Olúwábùkúnmi Awóṣùsì January 24th, 2023
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TikTok is a mobile news app that was created in China in 2017. The app has over 315 million downloads worldwide. In Forbes' most downloaded app review for 2022, TikTok ranked first among other applications. In July 2022, a UK organisation, Ofcom, released a news release on TikTok.

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Overview: History And Opinion

Oftentimes, the quickest place we go when we find ourselves either in life-threatening or benign situations is neither a doctor nor a specialist but a search engine—google. This action is devoid of the fact that you may be a specialist in one field or another, nor may you be aged.


The instantaneous satisfaction of life’s conundrum makes Google the first go-to-prescription in our lifestyle. However, despite this digital innovation, in recent times, there has been a major question posed against the hegemonic power of this app: whether it is waning.


The advent of Google has offered numerous avenues of help; actually, with over 9 billion searches every day, a lot of people have ascribed the messianic power to the disruptor search engine.


Despite its evolution in 1996, Google has functioned effectively as the most renowned search engine even up to having its word in the dictionary–to google, in addition, by incorporating other social services like email, Google has been able to wield the hegemonic power of the digital world.


However, in the midst of this centralized power, another seemingly benign but major rising competitor that seems to be dragging the scepter of the search engine with Google is seen in the scene.


The era of this new app-power began in 2017, out of the Chinese video-sharing app Douyin (抖音), and within three years, it became one of the most downloaded apps in the world; subsequently, in 2021, it surpassed Google as the world's most visited web page.


In Forbes' most downloaded app review for 2022, this same mobile application ranked first amongst other applications.


The popularization of this application became widespread in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic, with over 315 million downloads worldwide. This download could be said to have been accelerated due to various challenges supported by the application.


Longing to know about the name of the application that has earned these feats? Well, it is not more than the onomatopoeic software that reminds you of the sound of a pendulum clock—TikTok.


In December 2022, UK TikTok released an ad for its users explaining to them how they can use the app as a search engine. However, before this ad, I never paid much attention to TikTok, but upon seeing the ad, my interest in the software increased.


During my research, a statement caught my attention: "In our studies, almost 40% of young people, when they’re looking for a place for lunch, don't go to Google Maps or Search. They go to TikTok or Instagram", said Prabhakar Raghavan, SVP, who runs Google’s Knowledge & Information organization, in July 2022.


Now, this poses a question: is Google relinquishing its power of being a search engine to TikTok?


In July 2022, a UK organization, Ofcom, released a survey result that showcased that "users of TikTok for news claim to get more of their news on the platform from ‘other people they follow", this leads to a 44% of users using TikTok for news compare to 24% of people using news organization.


In response to this, Yih-Choung Teh, Ofcom’s Group Director for Strategy and Research stated, "Teenagers today are increasingly unlikely to pick up a newspaper or tune into TV News, instead preferring to keep up-to-date by scrolling through their social feeds. And while youngsters find news on social media to be less reliable, they rate these services more highly for serving up a range of opinions on the day’s topical stories."

What Makes TikTok Unique?

A major question that sits on my mind after these revelations are—what makes TikTok unique? In this section, however, I will be speaking briefly on why TikTok is unique and why it may likely eclipse other search engines. Without any further ado, let's get started.


In a blog post by Connie Chan titled: What China Can Teach Us About the Future of TikTok and Video Search, it stated, '“on Douyin, which has been monetizing short-form video search for years, videos are often tagged with the names of stores and other locations, and tapping on these links takes users to in-app pages where they can take advantage of large discount coupons or special bookings.


Interestingly, years ago, app users could go as far as making restaurant reservations or booking a hotel directly inside the app. Today, the main call to action is directing users to buy discount vouchers that can immediately be used; this saves users 10-20% off the retail price (and sometimes as much as 40%!)."


Incorporating the use of hashtags for videos alongside the names of the video or content in the video makes it more compelling and increasingly useful for its users.


However, apart from the Hashtag influence, TikTok's major channel of content—visual—makes it addictive to the user.


However, using the For You algorithm to streamline content for the users based on what they like to determine what they will like to see, TikTok has continually soared as one of the most used and addictive applications.


What TikTok has hence created is a visual representation of a search engine. By impact, it pleasures the user through the release of dopamine for the satisfaction of cravings and fulfillment of curiosity i.e, answers to your searches.

Conclusion

In summary, with various revolutions in the tech industry, seeing new software eclipsing older ones shouldn't be a new thing. However, in the case of search engines, seeing a new software competing with the hegemonic power of Google seems strange.


This new software, TikTok, has been able to create a compelling algorithm that serves the users what they are interested in while also giving dopamine to the users.


Hence, due to the motion content, TikTok, perhaps in the next few years, might take over Google, and that will be another major revolution in the tech industry.