July 22nd, 2013 by Craig Labovitz

Sometime over the last month, Google quietly broke an Internet record.

Based on measurements of end device and user audience share, Google is now bigger than Facebook, Netflix and Twitter combined.

An amazing 60% of all Internet end devices/users exchange traffic with Google servers during the course of an average day. This analysis includes computers and mobile device as well as hundreds of varieties game consoles, home media appliances, and other embedded devices (Google’s device share is much larger if we look only at computers and mobile devices).

While big data center construction projects and Google Fiber have dominated the headlines, far less attention has focused on Google’s growing and pervasive dominance throughout the underlying Internet infrastructure and economy. For example, Google analytics, hosting, and advertising play some type of role in over half of all large web services or sites today based on our ongoing study.

The below graph shows the average percentage of end devices in North American consumer networks that exchange traffic with Google infrastructure at least once every 24-hours this summer.

While it is old news that Google is BIG , the sheer scale and dominance of Google in the Internet infrastructure has significant implications on network design and evolution. When we last published some large-scale measurements in 2010, Google represented (a now seemingly small) 6% of Internet traffic. Today, Google now accounts for nearly 25% of Internet traffic on average. Only Netflix has larger bandwidth, but Netflix peaks last only for a few hours each evening during prime time hours and during Netflix cache update periods in the early morning.

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 US Internet providers. By comparison, we observed GGC deployments mostly in Asia, Africa and Latin America when we last did a large scale study in 2010.

As in our other research reports, we base our data on an ongoing large scale study of anonymized Internet backbone traffic across a large cross section of North America and multiple collaborating infrastructure and Internet providers (although based on a different dataset, more information about our basic methodology is available here).

Of particular note, our study leverages anonymized data from core Internet infrastructure (i.e. backbone routers) so that unlike web bug based measurements (e.g. Alexa / Comscore), the above data includes traffic from both browsers as well as all embedded devices (e.g. Apple TV, Roku, Xbox 360, mobile apps, etc.). We believe this is the largest ongoing study of its kind covering roughly 1/5 of the US consumer Internet.