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There are a lot of great questions about What would happen if the internet failed semi-permanently and What would happen if electricity stopped working.

As we all know, Google has a great impact on the internet. I'm not only talking about the search engine, Google offers a lot of other services and a lot of computers already depend on Google being alive to work properly, to name one of them: Google's nameservers available under the IP addresses 8.8.8.8 and 8.8.4.4. There are probably even more services, which are used by servers all around the world.

So the question is: If Google suddenly disappeared, every server owned by Google shuts down, how big would the impact be on the internet? Would the internet collapse completely as there is just too much which is dependent on Google's services?

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    $\begingroup$ Hello, and welcome to the site. I'm sorry to be the one to point out that your question is out of scope on this site. Take a look at Is WB a What-If Site?, as well as Risk Factors. This is also a good read: Don't Ask $\endgroup$ – AndreiROM Jun 16 '16 at 14:25
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    $\begingroup$ Oh, I thought it'd fit because what if energy stopped working and what if the internet disappeared were great questions and not closed, what's the difference to those two questions? $\endgroup$ – tkausl Jun 16 '16 at 14:28
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    $\begingroup$ Just a thought - Amazon going dark might be a bigger 'hit' to the internet, given how many companies rely on AWS. $\endgroup$ – GrandmasterB Jun 16 '16 at 17:59
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    $\begingroup$ "Where has Google gone?" would suddenly become the number one search on Bing. $\endgroup$ – Richard Jun 16 '16 at 19:42
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    $\begingroup$ I say "Bing it on" $\endgroup$ – sdrawkcabdear Jun 17 '16 at 0:21

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The impact on the Internet would likely be minimal.

Now, don't get me wrong. There would be widespread disruption of service to a lot of people who use Google's services. But the Internet is designed in such a way that the existence of any one node or any one link isn't critical to the network itself. In the modern Internet (as opposed to the original DARPA design) there certainly are nodes that are central to the network, but in terms of the network, Google is more of a leaf node than a central node as they do not provide physical connectivity to any significant number of Internet users. They are (a large set of) end-points, not transit nodes. Google Fiber has on the order of a few hundred thousand users in a small handful of areas; that service disappearing would be an annoyance to those few hundred thousand households who would consequently lose access to the Internet, but would be insignificant to the Internet as a whole.

The first thing that lots of people would notice is probably that anyone who uses Google's DNS infrastructure would find themselves unable to resolve any host names. That's easy to fix: just change back to whatever resolving DNS servers your ISP provides. Takes the tech-savvy person maybe a minute or two once they realize what's happening, but their first reaction would probably be to write it off as a connectivity glitch, not Google disappearing. For the less tech-savvy people, the ISP support departments might be overwhelmed with calls about why everything just stopped working, but it isn't a difficult fix. Once the ISP's support department realizes that Google's DNS servers are having problems (even if they don't know yet what those problems are), they can have their technicians set up a web page, accessible by IP address, explaining what's going on and how to fix it, and place a recorded message to the effect of "if Internet stopped working for you and restarting your computer does not help, then try entering the address 203.0.113.1 into your web browser and follow the instructions there, then call again if doing so does not resolve your problems" early in the call loop, well before the call reaches a human being. (That won't be useful information to everyone, even everyone who has that specific problem, but it will help some, cutting down on the flood of support calls.)

Second, anyone who uses Google's services (search engine, e-mail, etc.) would find themselves unable to access those services. The search engine is probably the easiest to resolve; just use another one. (That Wikipedia article took me about 30 seconds to find, and no, I didn't use Google -- or any other search engine, for that matter -- to find it; just Wikipedia's own search feature.) With how many people store things exclusively in the cloud on other peoples' computers, there would be widespread grumbling in large parts of the world about lost data. Such lost data, if no backups exist, may lead to problems or even bankruptcy for some companies, but that's a problem of having no backups, not of Google disappearing.

But neither of those are critical to the network "Internet" itself.

Your bank's web site will almost certainly keep working just fine. Your local newspaper might be relying on Google infrastructure for their web site, but large national newspapers should be able to quickly get back online if they don't stay online. Content (except that stored on Google's servers) won't suddenly disappear, but it might take some fiddling to establish alternative ways of accessing it (see point on Google's DNS servers above). Stack Exchange would very likely remain online but with reduced functionality as each page gets some Javascript from Google's servers; people should still be able to ask whether unicorns will survive racing through a line of infantry, and read-only access to the important content will work perfectly (I know this because I run NoScript and sometimes forget to turn on Javascript from Google's servers when visiting Stack Exchange...).

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    $\begingroup$ Well, a term like "the Internet" is used in multiple senses. You could say it means a set of protocols, HTTP, FTP, SMTP, etc. Or you could say it refers to the cables and wires and switching systems that make up the network infrastructure. But it is also quite reasonable to use it to mean all the data and services that are provided on the Internet. Like if someone says "France", he might mean the land and trees and mountains of a certain geographical area; he might mean the people; he might mean the government; he might mean many things, depending on context. $\endgroup$ – Jay Jun 16 '16 at 17:04
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    $\begingroup$ @Jay While you're right that the term "the Internet" is not exacly well defined, this answer is correct regardless of which definition of "the Internet" is in question. For example, Gmail would disappear, but e-mail would continue to function as normal. There aren't many organizations where their sudden disappearance would cause problems for the whole Internet. IANA is one. Maybe ARIN? $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Jun 16 '16 at 17:31
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddWilcox ARIN is merely a registry, so their disappearance would cause some disruption of workflow for network operators (in ARIN's area of "jurisdiction", within quotes because they have no legal powers) but none for the general kitten-sharing and unicorn-discussing public. I can't immediately think of any single entity the disappearance of which would cause immediate problems for the public at large in using the Internet. $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 16 '16 at 17:50
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    $\begingroup$ I may be misunderstanding something, but if Google shut down, people using Google Fiber and Project Fi wouldn't have internet whatsoever, right? Those services are cable/cellular. $\endgroup$ – Spotlight Jun 16 '16 at 19:34
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    $\begingroup$ @RobertBenson: for that matter there are people who make a living helping others interpret Google Analytics, or selling apps on Play. Like YouTube vloggers, they are not essential to the network infrastructure. Their jobs will be disrupted or destroyed (as of course will those of Google employees. Vint Cerf his very self might be looking for a new job). But barring total economic collapse and the end of civilisation, the network doesn't care whether or not it can be used for some particular thing involving Google. $\endgroup$ – Steve Jessop Jun 16 '16 at 22:21
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Yes, Google is big and provides a lot of services. But it's not like they're the only ones out there providing these services.

If Google suddenly and mysteriously evaporated tomorrow, millions of people would be inconvienced for weeks. Then people would switch to other providers offering comparable services. I don't know of any service that is offerred ONLY by Google, but if there is something, and people care, someone would come along to offer a comparable service.

Bing and other search engines would take up the slack on search engine business. There are hosts of email providers and DNS providers, losing Google would be a drop in the bucket. I don't know an existing alternative to the Google App Store, but if there isn't one, somebody would build one in a hurry. Etc.

I'd guess that within 6 months or so there'd be little noticable remaining effect. People who had valuable data on Google servers that was lost would be harest hit. They might take considerable time to recover. I suppose some businesses that had critical data stored on Google and no backups anywhere else could be ruined.

In real life it's hard to imagine Google simply disappearing over night. If they started losing money it would likely be months or years before they actually went bankrupt. Or whatever scenario you're supposing, people would likely have time to adapt, so when they finally did close up shop, it would be a minor disruption for the few who had failed to prepare. Their servers and software and buildings wouldn't just evaporate: other companies would buy them up.

It's like when US Airways went bankrupt, their planes and pilots and so on didn't all disappear, they were absorbed by other airlines. People who had tickets were inconvenienced, but that's about as far as it went. It's not like it led to an end to all air travel.

Big companies go out of business all the time. It's tough on the employees and investors, but the rest of the world goes on with little notice.

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    $\begingroup$ The hardest hit would be people who have an Android phone as their only phone and companies hosting mission critical servers only in Google cloud services. Some businesses would never recover. $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Jun 16 '16 at 17:34
  • $\begingroup$ Didn't US Airways (at least the airfleet) just become part AAL? $\endgroup$ – SMS von der Tann Jun 16 '16 at 17:42
  • $\begingroup$ @SMSvonderTann That's my point. They got bought out, somebody else took over their planes, I assume most of the employees went with the new company, those who didn't mostly went to other airlines, etc. $\endgroup$ – Jay Jun 16 '16 at 18:18
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    $\begingroup$ @ToddWilcox Yes. Business who had data on Google, and no backup anywhere else, would be in trouble. If the Web was a big part of their business, they might go bankrupt before they could rebuild it all somewhere else. That would be the worst case. If they had even a short warning that Goggle was going down, presumably they'd quickly make a backup so they could just find another hosting provider and be back up within what, a couple of days? $\endgroup$ – Jay Jun 16 '16 at 18:20
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    $\begingroup$ @Jay At the risk of digressing, it can be difficult and time-consuming to pull an entire server off of a cloud service (or put one up). I downloaded a server from Azure one time on a 100 Mb pipe and I just left it overnight to export. A better option with advance notice might be to export any databases, copy those files directly from one cloud service to another, and build new servers on the new service and import the databases/data. Depending on the size of the system, it could be very expensive and time consuming. $\endgroup$ – Todd Wilcox Jun 16 '16 at 18:45
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If Google were to disappear then the other search engines would all have an opportunity to become the new Google, it's likely that eventually one of them would win, be it Bing, Yahoo, or Duckduckgo.

It's very likely that the winner would probably be more nefarious and less fair about their search engine results as well, because Google do tend to be quite unbiased and equal opportunity.

As for the ramifications of all of Google's servers disappearing, I'm sure a fair few people would be very upset about losing their sites and their online documents (I know my company would lose a lot), but it would be quickly replaced by the next best thing.

In conclusion: Google going down would mess up the internet for a few days for the average person, whereas the issues could be potentially lethal for a lot of companies that rely heavily on search engines.

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  • $\begingroup$ Hi user20008. Please keep in mind the difference between the network Internet, and services offered on top of that network (such as the World Wide Web), and services offered on top of that (such as the Google search engine, Stack Exchange, Wikipedia or what have you). $\endgroup$ – a CVn Jun 16 '16 at 16:37
  • $\begingroup$ Isn't Duckduckgo just a website that googles (and searches on Bing, Yahoo and so on, but basically googles)? If Google doesn't exist anymore, does Duckduckgo still work? $\endgroup$ – palsch Jun 16 '16 at 20:50
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    $\begingroup$ @palsch According to them "DuckDuckGo gets its results from over four hundred sources. These include hundreds of vertical sources delivering niche Instant Answers, DuckDuckBot (our crawler) and crowd-sourced sites (like Wikipedia, stored in our answer indexes)". ( duck.co/help/results/sources ) Having their own crawler - the service should be self-sufficient, even if other search sources disappeared - though the relevancy and volume of the results could be affected. $\endgroup$ – killercowuk Jun 17 '16 at 8:59
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    $\begingroup$ Downvoted because I don't think that "Google tends to be quite unbiased and equal opportunity". OMG LOL $\endgroup$ – Kii Jun 17 '16 at 22:19
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    $\begingroup$ "Google tends to be quite unbiased and equal opportunity". That's irony, right? Google spies you to give you the results that it thinks you will prefer. That's completely biased, and usually it does it wrong for me. That's why I use DuckDuckGo. $\endgroup$ – Oriol Jun 18 '16 at 22:25
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Essentially nothing.

In fact, Google has already disappeared for almost 20% of the world's population. All of Google's (including Android) services are completely blocked in China, along with Facebook and a number of other highly popular Western web services.

While technologically competent tourists are able to use SSH and VPNs to bypass such blocks while there, overcoming these blocks, a fluorishing local internet ecosystem has sprung up to cater for the niche of services provided by Google and Facebook. These, in addition to the competitors of Google in the Western world, can also take its place easily.

Such websites include Baidu (China's number one search engine), WeChat/Weixin (China's Facebook equivalent) can all take over the parts of Google that are already in use. While the transition may take a few days to complete, it is unlikely that any significant lasting effects will occur as users transition to alternative services.

In fact, it is possible that overseas equivalents will evolve and take over Google's niche faster than their Western competitors, due to the fact that the necessary infrastructure is already fully in place and running.

For example, Youtube receives web traffic that is orders of magnitude higher than any of its Western competitors, and Google has an immense amount of network infrastructure in place to support that traffic. It would probably take weeks to months for competitors such as Vimeo (which has less than 3% of Google's userbase) to expand their infrastructure to handle the hordes of cat video watchers, while overseas competitors such as Youku from China (~50% of Google's userbase) or NicoNico (Japan) will likely have infrastructure better equipped to handle the massive influx of users.

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    $\begingroup$ Your use of “overseas” is confusing. $\endgroup$ – Michael Jun 19 '16 at 14:42
  • $\begingroup$ I'm gonna assume over seas is in reference from google's origin country $\endgroup$ – Sarfaraaz Jun 23 '16 at 11:01
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Google is HUGE, and provides many services, but the Internet was designed during the Cold War to survive a nuclear Armageddon. It would still be there, but with a significant reduction in cat videos et al. via YouTube. (Along with all other services that Google provides.)

Secondarily and tertiary effects would have major effects in the business sector, so there would be significant economic disruption. Local governments and academic institutions which use Google as an email and storage service would suffer, many documents would be lost and communication would effectively be disabled until they switched too other services or provided it themselves like in the old days.

There would be mass emotional distress, and fear.

Android phones wouldn't be much better than dumb phones, with most services disabled and no more updates.

To some, it might seem like the world ended.

Then everyone would buy iPhones and use Bing, and be okay.

Of course, if you bring Google Fiber into the picture, that's a different matter. It is the Internet for some. And that depends on how closely integrated/dependent Google's services is with its hardware. And how proprietary its hardware is. If it's hardware is fully independent and standardized, it will simply be absorbed into the Internet. All other outcomes depend on how many trained personell remain who are specialized in Google's tech, and the depth of integration services (including Google's private services only they know about) have with hardware. The less independent, the more Google Fiber comes crashing down. So the Internet via Google Fiber would end in that case in areas only serviced by Google Fiber. (None of those exist, yet.) And yet, another provider would just run a line out there. Hopefully the cellular networks aren't plugged solely into Google Fiber in that case!

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  • $\begingroup$ Ironically, this exact situation actually happened today inTexas with ATT!!!! Even their cell towers have degraded/disabled service for Internet related services! $\endgroup$ – NonCreature0714 Jun 18 '16 at 1:13
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Interestingly, there was a video posted by Tom Scott recently about what might happen if someone in Google disabled passwords on all accounts one day, and what would happen to the rest of the internet if Google dropped off the net due to something like that.

Spoiler, in a few hours the whole internet falls over. But then not long after everyone goes back to business as usual.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=y4GB_NDU43Q&feature=youtu.be

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For the internet as an infrastructure nothing would change at all.

For the community called Internet(s) only minor changes would happen.

  • Youngsters wouldn't understand UTFG prompt, something like "dial" word for the phones nowadays;
  • Youtubers would lose their "jobs" and start the real ones;
  • Android phones would become scrap or Canonical/Mozzilla would ressurect their Ubuntu/Firefox over Android projects;
  • Zounds of Ultimate compilations of anything would disappear, thus procrastination would become harder, for a while;
  • People will start using dedicated tools instead of one G-stuff;
  • many StackExchange users would lose their reps and badges because htey would need to create brand new accounts;
  • People relying on google only will learn the words "Diversification (of risks)" the hard, painfull and expensive way.

And for the world and reality? Some people would commit suicide, some would die of laugh. The others would get used to the change.

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  • $\begingroup$ Android phones with the exception of flagship devices usually are considered scrap the minute they leave the store, they're referred to as 'landfill android' for a reason... $\endgroup$ – James Snell Oct 20 '16 at 15:06
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There would be chaos for a while at least. It's actually part of an experiment that I've been working on to see how it affects me personally.

A number of very large and critical pieces of infrastructure rely on google's datacentres such as the UK Tax service HMRC and there are probably parallels in most countries, so basic things won't happen. In the USA they have Google apps for Government. Killing that stuff off is going to have a huge effect on people who don't even own a computer or smartphone...

Even as a normal user, one can easily choose not to use google search & mail but their hold on the internet as we use it daily is deeply insidious. Take googleapis, googlefonts - those are not sites we normally visit directly, but block them at your firewall and you'll soon know about it. a number of third-party sites will just point-blank refuse to work properly. Then you get into the included content (google maps, embedded youtube videos which carry things like user training.)

If you want to experiment then you can obtain a list of google IP ranges and just block them at the firewall. I'll give you 10 minutes of trying to get a normal day's surfing done before you have to undo them.

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    $\begingroup$ This needs to be upvoted many more times than 4. $\endgroup$ – Cem Kalyoncu Oct 20 '16 at 13:36
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You have to realize that Google as a cloud service provider is relatively modest. Modest in the sense they are still top 5, but that in this particular area Amazon is dominating real hard with about a third of the world's market share.

Cloudtacular!

Amazon has clients such as NASA, Netflix or the freaking CIA. Losing Amazon would have a much more substantial impact that losing Google.

The biggest impact the disappearance of Google would probably be purely economical. On the stock market first, Alphabet's market cap is (currently) 492.02 billion USD, which is about the GDP of Sweden, i.e. loads of money to have disappeared suddenly.

Alphabet (which is Google's parent company in case you didn't know) also owns venture capital funds invested in various company. The disappearance of that would hit companies funded by Alphabet pretty hard.

Beyond that, any service is replaceable. Consumers would likely only lose data, which is kind of a bummer but not the end of the world (and a valuable life lesson about the volatility of The Cloud™ and how local saves are important).

Companies relying on Google/Alphabet services would lose vasts amount of money and those unable to find an alternative quickly would fold.

The Internet itself would shrug it off and find another video streaming service where to downvote Call of Duty trailers.

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As other answers have said, Google going away will ahve almost no impact on the Internet. It will have a very large impact on the Internet services people commonly use.

Other answers have already covered the big pieces, but one aspect that's been missed in a lot of the answers is the less-visible infrastructure services Google supplies. Most will be only a temporary disruption, but many mean a large and permanent loss of data.

Google Sign-In

You can log into many sites using your Google account. Suddenly, you can't. Recovery of that account will be almost impossible because your blah@gmail.com is also gone. This also effects many Android and iOS apps and many devices.

Hosted Javascript Libraries

Google hosts a lot of popular Javascript libraries like jQuery and AngularJS which web sites directly link to. When Google disappears, all those web sites will stop working or work at greatly reduced functionality. Fortunately, this is easy enough to fix by replacing the link with another library host, or your own local copy. A few days of web spread chaos on the web while this gets fixed, but it's a trivial fix.

Maps

Many sites and applications rely on Google Maps. For some it's non-critical functionality ("directions to my restaurant"). For others it's critical. There are plenty of other map services out there, but with different APIs. Changing the code to use them is fairly easy, but not trivial.

YouTube disappears

On the one hand it is a temporary disruption as there are plenty of other video services out there. More importantly is the loss of all the videos only on YouTube. The loss of artistic and cultural content will be very large.

Chrome Browser

Google's browser has about half the market share on all platforms, including smartphones. With Google gone, it will no longer be updated making it vulnerable to security problems in the short term.

While large portions of the browser are Open Source, much of it is not. A significant effort would have to be made to reconstruct the original code, and rebuild a development team. However, there's a question of whether that would be legal.

Fortunately, there are other browsers to step in and take Chrome's place.

Google Contacts, Drive, Docs, and Keep

There are other services which provide a similar product, but like with YouTube, all your documents in Contacts, Drive, Docs, and Keep are now gone. If you didn't have them locally mirrored, they're lost forever. Everything from slide shows to budgets are gone.

Android

Many people have stated that Android phones will become scrap. I don't believe this is true. All the basic functionality will still work: voice calls and text messages. All apps which have locally cached content should still work: contacts, calendar, even maps if you turn on local caching. Non-Google apps will continue to work fine... assuming they don't rely on Google Sign-In or Google APIs.

Alternative Android stores already exist. Android users and app providers can switch to using them. Critical apps like Maps, Contacts, and Calendar will have to be updated or replaced to use working APIs.

Android itself, like Chrome, is mostly Open Source. But there's critical pieces which are not. However, there are already Open Source versions of Android ready to go, such as CyanogenMod.

Google Voice

Anyone using Google Voice probably just lost their ability to make and receive calls and texts, since that is all routed through Google. They also lost all their text and voice mail archives probably forever.

Fortunately, they should be able to transfer their number to a new provider. It might take some time if Google truly disappeared to get the number unlocked.

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Not much to add but Google ads bring a lot of revenue to small businesses.

people study how to make their site appear higher in the search results of google on certain topics.

There are companies that have staff just doing that.

The process is called Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and although the title seems generic, many of these "practices" are concentric to how google gives your page to a user.

Other search engines may use the information provided by SEO in a very different way.

It may take weeks to train staff to rethink their optimizations.

There are still many places today that don't have access to internet. many people who do, use cellphones likely for BBM/whatsapp as their primarily internet usage.

Interesting Fact

This document on pages 56 & 57 show that in South Africa in 2015 only 10% of people use internet at home or even have access to it there and another ~50% or so have access by other locations (work /school/ university)

So I say some places will be hit harder than others but a sudden disappearance of google will only cause a temporary hurdle to many people/industries.

(Although I also think some people would give up using the internet XD)

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