Page last updated at 08:07 GMT, Monday, 3 July 2006 09:07 UK

Google's online empire

Google is no longer just a search engine. The latest project in its portfolio of services is an online payments system which aims to compete with auction giant eBay.

The service, known as Google Checkout, is just one of a series of online products launched by the California based company.

However, none of the new ventures launched over the past four years have established themselves as a market leader, reported online magazine Business Week.


A Mars Odyssey picture of the Valles Marineris on Mars
Google Mars allows users to explore the Red Planet

Google Earth combines satellite imagery and maps into an application that allows users to point and zoom to any location on the planet.

Users can search by location, landmark or by category such as schools, parks, or restaurants.

Various overlays allow people to see roads and tourist attractions.

Unofficial "mash-ups" combine the program with other data to provide interactive maps on everything from internet connections in Africa to new theme parks.

A similar program called Google Mars allows people to explore the Red Planet, while a French program, known as Geoportail, offers high-definition images of the country.


Skype stand at CES
Skype is still the most popular VoIP service

Google Talk unites net telephony with an instant messaging (IM) network.

Based on the open software, known as Jabber, the program allows different IM systems to talk to one another.

Google entered the field of IM and VoIP (Voice Over Internet Protocol) later than many of its rivals who already have an established user base.

In 2005, America Online had more than 40 million users on its AIM and ICQ instant messaging networks. Yahoo had 20 million users and MSN Messenger had 14 million.

Skype, the largest VoIP network, claims to have over 50 million users.

Google Talk ranks number 10 in the list of IM clients, with just 2% of the number of users for market leader MSN Messenger, according to net traffic firm comScore Media Metrix.


Coleen McLoughlin
Digital photography allows users to share photographs more easily

Google Picasa allows people to manage, share and organise their digital photos.

The program automatically catalogues all of the pictures on your PC and sorts them into searchable albums.

It also offers a series of tools, such as red eye correction, to manipulate digital snaps.

Photo sharing site Flickr already enjoys huge popularity, hosting millions of pictures.

The photo sharing site is now owned by Yahoo and allows users to tag images.


The content is collected automatically by a computer

Google News compiles the latest headlines from more than 4,500 sources into a searchable index.

Users can search the news by keyword or set up alerts based on personal interests.

International versions of the site offer headlines in many languages, including Korean, Japanese and Arabic.

At the moment, the automatic search ranks the most recently published story highest. Critics say the results do not take into account the credibility of the source.

The service has recently been launched on mobile phones.


Bill Gates
Google offers some alternatives to Microsoft software

The free, web-based spreadsheet application was launched on a trial basis in 2006.

The rival to Microsoft's Excel program allows up to 10 users to work on the same spreadsheet.

The application is aimed at small business users.

Google recently bought Writely, an online word-processing application.

Along with its e-mail program, Gmail, its online calendar and the Google Desktop search tool, the company is increasingly competing with Microsoft's Office software.


Apple computer
Apple offer video downloads through iTunes

Google Video is the company's answer to Apple's move into offering video through its iTunes download service.

Google's version allows people to search for, buy and download films and TV programmes.

As part of the service, the search giant has done a deal with CBS to offer some of its big blockbuster hits, such as CSI and Survivor.

The Google upload service also allows users to upload their own videos to the site.

The services are offered as test, or beta, versions.

Online media company Yahoo offers a similar service.

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