July 23, 2013 at 5:24 PM ET
It's no secret that Google casts quite a shadow on the Internet, but the numbers from a new study may surprise even the most bullish of analysts. In North America, not only does 25 percent of all traffic goes through the search giant, but three fifths of all Internet-connected devices in North America touch base with Google every single day, says new research.
The most interesting number in the report from Deepfield, an Internet tracking firm, is the touching-base one: on average about 62 percent of all connected devices — be they smartphones, game consoles, or desktop computers — sent traffic to Google servers at some point during every day, arguably upwards of a billion devices. It may only be a quick search, a YouTube video, or even a link going through Google's link shortener service (goo.gl), or it could be more, like spending the day on Google Docs.
As for total traffic, even at 25 percent Google is actually still behind Netflix during peak hours (the video network accounts for about a third of traffic at those times, according to Sandvine). But what's impressive here is Google's growth. Deepfield notes that in 2010, the last time the firm conducted a traffic survey of this scope, Google only made up 6 percent of traffic.
Are that many more people Googling things? Perhaps not, writes Deepfield's Craig Labovitz:
By far the most striking change in Google’s Internet presence has come with the deployment of thousands of Google servers in Internet providers around the world. With little press coverage or fanfare, Google has deployed (Google Global Cache) servers in the majority of U.S. Internet providers.
So although Google has unquestionably grown larger, some of the increase in traffic is tied more to infrastructure changes than increased popularity — while Netflix's numbers and growth are more easily explained: More people are watching more movies and TV online.
Information on how the study was conducted can be found at the Deepfield blog post.
Devin Coldewey is a contributing writer for NBC News Digital. His personal website is coldewey.cc.