Google's Success May Mark The End Of Everything Else

To use a phrase from Highlander, "There can be only one." That is the direction that Google is heading, intentionally or not. As the dominate player in search, adding social media through Google+ and local business controls through a revamped Google Places, we're heading down a road where nobody else will be able to compete.

Google Earth

Over the past decade, Google's success has hinged around one major product—search. They have had some success with other products such as Gmail and many of their acquisitions, such as YouTube, have flourished. For every success, there are several other failures both in products they have designed and in acquisitions.

When you're on pace for $30 billion in revenue from one product (Adwords), you have room to make mistakes. Now, it seems, Google's 3 latest major endeavors—Google+, Google Places, and Android—are well on their way to being shining examples of further success. The difference this time is that the combination of the three mixed with the unfathomable amount of data they have collected on the Internet over the years could mean "game over" for most others trying to make moves in search, social, mobile, and local verticals.

Unless Google slips up somewhere, the races will eventually be for second place. First place will be locked down by the big G.

Social Media

Google Plus

Many would argue that Facebook has too big of a lead and to embedded of a userbase to fear annihilation. Sure, Google+ is a major competitor, but MySpace was a major competitor and they couldn't stay together. Twitter has been a pseudo-competitor for years but are still no threat to Facebook's existence.

Is Google+ simply something that Facebook will have to compete against or is there a real possibility that they could be dumped as quickly as MySpace got dumped once Facebook grew to a tipping point?

Looking at the interfaces, the platforms upon which both are built, and the general mobility of each company, it's possible that Facebook could be caught in a MySpace-esque failure within 18 months.

With Facebook trapped in MySQL, they face scalability issues that make many database experts wonder how they've made it this far. There are too many conversations going on at any given moment for the platform to remain stable indefinitely. It's not a matter of if Facebook will crash. Like "the big one" that will eventually hit Southern California, it's only a question of when Facebook will crash unless they are able to make major changes before it happens.

A month ago, the risk of a Facebook crash was not a huge concern. Facebook is approaching 800 million users and there were no viable alternatives. People would suffer through the crash and come back when it was over because it was the only place that had all of their friends, family, images, and videos stored in one location.

Google+ changes things. Now, there is a force that offers most of what Facebook has and several things that it doesn't have. It's a name that is recognized by everyone and trusted by many. A crash of the system in whole or in part could spook people enough to have them leaving in droves.

Even if the technology issues can be secured, Google has another major advantage. Android devices are being activated at the astounding rate of 550,000 per day. Each activation requires a Google account. When Google+ goes public (as soon as next week) each of these accounts will be encouraged to join. Google+ apps will eventually be pre-loaded into Android devices. Forced adoption does not mean that people will use it, but many will. If Google plays its cards right, they will adopt it and they will love it.

Android isn't just about social. The domination continues with mobile...

Mobile

Google Mobile

It goes beyond the amazing activation numbers as we discuss Google mobile progress. The mobile war is much more than just about device sales and operating system preferences. Mobile as an industry is becoming the central point for everything else. Social, search, and local are all falling into orbit around mobile devices and our addiction to them.

In this market, the race will be for #3. Android and iOS will own mobile for the foreseeable future. Debates can rage over which is better and who will eventually win, but the Blackberry days are fading and the Windows Phone 7 days never really got started.

Android will continue to chug along tossing out more phones while the iPhone will continue to set records for individual handhelds. iPad is showing signs of weakness, but not nearly enough to scare Apple. In the end, Android will win in bulk and iOS will win in profits. Everyone else will lose.

How does all of this equate to Google domination? If Apple is in the picture, there can't truly be an "end to everything else," right? Actually, it can, and it does.

Apple's place in the mobile market will always be as a provider. Despite attention towards a relationship with Twitter and having ties with Microsoft, Apple will not fight Google in an open war the way they have fought individual phone providers and software companies such as Adobe. Like it or not, Apple will have to be in a constant state of truce with Google as a company because people like the services. If Apple were to completely remove Google apps from the iPhone, it would hurt them more than it would hurt Google.

They are the only "Google-proof" company. They can co-exist with Google and feed off of their developments. It wouldn't make sense to go head to head just as it never made sense for the USSR and the USA to fight a war back in the high-tension Reagan years. If Apple and Google truly fought openly, everyone would lose.

Google needs Apple nearly as much. While Google may play a little in the hardware realm, Apple owns it. Google products must be present on Apple devices for the success of both companies. In mobile, there can be 2 winners.

In local, however, there truly can be only one...

Local

Google Place Sushi

Everyone should have seen it coming. When Google launched Places last year, it started showing reviews from 3rd party sites. It would pull from Yelp and TripAdvisor (which neither appreciated) and other sites to entice people to check out the reviews and learn about the places they were considering. Once they added an option to add reviews directly through Google, the end was officially announced.

Those who wanted to stop having their reviews published in Google Places go their wish. Others, such as DealerRater, were crushed by the change last week when Google pulled 3rd party reviews.

It had become part of the business model for many. Being listed as an influencer over Google Places reviews and star rankings was big. Now, it's all gone. The reasons are many, including quality and consistency, but it really boils down to Google needing content to make the Places pages useful until they had enough of their own content to use their own instead.

Most Places pages have links to other review sites, but it's often low on the page and it doesn't affect star-ratings anymore. As Google Places picks up steam over the next couple of years, smaller companies will fall off. The bigger ones like Yelp will still have a niche to fill, but they will be fighting for second place.

Check-in services are also at risk. Foursquare should consider falling into the Google empire, while Facebook places needs to get stronger adoption from businesses to keep the check-ins coming in consistently. Without check-ins, the service becomes useless.

The Data

Data

This is where it all comes together. Google search domination is increasing and while it's highly unlikely that Microsoft will ever put Bing on the chopping block, it's still barely a competitor simply because it's a distant #2.

The data that Google has about the Internet is unmatched. The information that they have scraped and indexed about the companies, governments, places, and people on the Internet is exponentially greater than anyone else. The knowledge they can produce as a result of all of this information is mind-blowing.

With successful domination in social, mobile, and local, the combined integration will make all other entities and companies vying for our attention online unnecessary. In essence, Google will have a presence in everything.

We will do business through research or recommendation on Google.

We will communicate with friends, family, and the rest of the world through products powered-by or integrated with Google.

We will make decisions based upon what a Google-powered device tells us.

This is where people will say, "No, it will never get like that. The government will stop it. The people will stop it. Someone will compete. Someone will challenge them."

No. No they won't. Unless Google truly messes up in the next two years, they will become an unstoppable force. This isn't necessarily a bad thing.

Actually, the more I think about it, it truly is a bad thing. It's only a matter of time, now.

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17 Comments

  • timventura

    This SAME article has been written in the past about Yahoo!, AOL, Microsoft, and many other companies. You'd think that authors would have developed some humility about prognosticating in this area already.

    "How can a company SO BIG ever fail?" - it's kind of like saying, "don't worry, the double-hull we built into the ship's hull is SO STRONG that it won't sink even if we hit an iceberg".

     

  • RayTirado

    I am equal parts scared and excited about what google is doing. They surely know more about each of us than even we are willing to admit. I'm all about technological progress but at some point we will all regret having given up our liberties for the benefit of any of google's products

  • JaiGuru

    While i agree it's worth keeping an eye on Google, I don't agree that the alarmist tone of much of this article is warranted. Google+ is FAR FAR from being dominant and never will be. Google intends to make it the key to all it's other services and virtually no  one wants their face associated with EVERYTHING they search or watch on youtube, etc. Business listings are simply analogous to yellow page listings of 15 years ago.

    I am also not a google cheer leader. In fact, I'd asay I'm among their biggest detractors. Google completely ruins pretty much every new service it tries to put out and is famously disconcerned with the opinions of it's users, especially when they make head scratchingly idiotic changes to things that are not broken (image view in their search engine for instance). Businesses like this don't tend to fare well in the long term, whether or not they have market dominance.

     

  • dylan wenzlau

    Google is taking over, yes. However, the reason for this is that intelligence is finally starting to push its way through in the main stream of society. When I take a look around and notice how companies are run, and what their motivations are, it just disgusts me. Except Google. Google values their engineers' input most of all, and doesn't rely on silly things like "experienced businessmen." You may call me naive, but creativity and innovation are what drive society, not bureaucracy. Google employees get to spend 20% of their time working on whatever project they want, allowing for the growth of new ideas. They aren't trained to think like robots, like most of the rest of the world. So until other large companies emerge with such great values, there won't be much solid competition.

  • Danny Wood

    Great article JD, I enjoyed reading.

    I find fascinating to study the ascent of tech companies to super-monopoly-dom, as it seems to be a process that involves part economics and politics.. it's kind of a big deal. I don't entirely agree with what you have outlined here though, specifically the end result of Google's monopoly. I've posted a response here - http://bit.ly/r2m8ox Please let me know what you think!

  • David Howard

    I just did something that I've been planning on for some time.  I took advantage of Facebook's profile download option.  I have to wonder if FB is seeing a spike in people requesting a zip file of their profile since the Google+ "beta"?  Not that it would matter, because evidently they aren't at all concerned about why people might request it.

    As a marketer, I was dumfounded at how easy FB makes it to extricate your data with a blanket download, what with the hyper-competitive market that is looming.  Faced with pressure to give people access to their own data, they would have been wise to do it in slices... options to download your images, or your wall, or your messages, or your status updates separately.  At the very least, have checkboxes that give you an idea of what the downloading motive is?!!  As it is, all FB can say when somebody clicks "download" is "looks like we have a change in user confidence... I wonder what area these people are most concerned with?"  Loss of loyalty is a business inevitability, but BLIND loss of loyalty is simply a fail.

    From their own Q&A:
    Can I pick and choose which information I would like to download?Unfortunately, there is no way to individually select which data you would like to download. You will have to download your file in its entirety.

    The Facebook juggernaut has never faced hard times.  It's a fact that most employers fail to learn the value of the "exit interview" until they face hardship.  Just like that exit interview, when a user is losing their loyalty to a site, you HAVE to capture actionable exit data in order to keep hold of your market share and grow.  A Google+ was bound to come along.  

    I do concur with the author that FB is truly threatened, but I believe their greatest threat comes from within.

  • Don Lorenzet

    Talk about sweeping prophesies! 

    It's way too soon to say that Google is a "competitor" with Facebook now that it has just launched Google+ -- the damn thing is still in beta, it has nearly none of the depth of features Facebook offers, and it definitely remains to be seen if they can make it successful.Also, Android is being adopted in outstanding numbers -- but if Oracle's case holds up, Google and the handset mfgs who use Android may have to pay dearly.Apple is definitely a frenemy of Google's too. Apple is trying to stop HTC for copyright infringement with Android. If they are successful, Samsung may be next. Either way, and injunction or an Android "tax" to settle infringement damages from Oracle and Apple could really slow Google's Android growth.Additionally, as others point out in these comments, Google's core business of search could be challenged by a disruptive new technology. Search has gotten so bad and cluttered, even Google's, that surely there's an opportunity to come in and leapfrog their technology with a better way to search. There are silicon valley start ups in waiting trying to crack that code today.Finally, there are governments throughout the world who currently view Google with some mistrust. If they grow as large and as omnipresent as you suggest, don't you think these governments would step in and regulate or break up their power? Look what's happened in China.Google is in fact an amazing company. But they are in markets that aren't nearly off the ground yet. The markets can change and Google can mess up. They are not prescient or infallible.

  • Richard Presley

    JD, take a deep breath. Calm down. There, there, it will be alright. 

    I remember when such alarmist articles were being written about Microsoft and how they were taking over the world. The only thing missing from your redux is the threat to national security. 

    The biggest irony of all is that Google was the Black Swan in the "Microsoft Will Dominate The World" scenario predicting the end of freedom and choice as we knew it. Maybe we need to look at the past few decades of consistently emerging disruptive technologies such as what we've seen take place in the migration/merging of mobile devices with cell phones (as one example) or browsers and search engines (as another) and conclude that NO business should ever feel smug that it has become the dominant market leader in any field and will be able to take on all comers. 

    Even if Google, like Microsoft, is able to innovate and acquire at a truly frenetic pace, this is still no guarantee that it is immune from innovative and disruptive technologies. Do we know what they are? Can we predict what they will be? Not by a long shot. That's why they are Black Swans. But one thing we can rest assured of, and that is that there will be a Black Swan in Google's future. 

  • Vincent Cifelli

    It looks like what it is,but in reality, not a chance. Give me the tools and time and watch me take google out :-) 

    I'm serious, lol

  • Justin Barricks

    I read 100 plus articles/blog post a day, and I don't mind when people reach far out there as this one. However I do mind when I'm reading and I come across a typo. Now this post is worthless to me. Thanks  and have a nice day.

  • Manoj

    Google is just an internet company and your screaming headline seems to suggest it will bring an end to "everything". Google has reached to this stage through innovation and risk taking investments. Even now it is much smaller in size when compared to competitors like Microsoft and Apple. 

    Indeed, Google is an epitome of innovation. People who have some sense of industrial history will know that the most successful companies in the long run are the ones that have tried many things and obviously succeeded in some. 3M and GE come to mind from the US. India's largest corporate group Tata (the guys who make everything from salt to software and tea to telecom are the ones who launched the sub $2500 car). But unlike US where big sized companies (except Apple) are feared or hated, in India Tata is consistently ranked among the most preferred brands. Just as Tata hasn't brought about an end to everything else in India, the market has enough space for many more competitors like Google. JDR, think long term and global with some sense of industrial history when you make such analysis. 

  • OnlyMeWorld

    It's time for Google+, Facebook, and most other social networking sites to face the fact that people want to be treated as a customer, not a product.  MOST PEOPLE, and I repeat MOST PEOPLE, are concerned with how much information is being collected about them whether voluntarily and/or without them knowing, and how this information is being used.  Google just a few months ago said they were not going to be involved with Facial Recognition, is now purchasing a Facial Recognition company, how shameful after google blasted Facebook for the same thing!Most people today, because of cyber crime, and concerns over privacy wish to have some anonymity on the web, especially on social networking sites.  Facebook has a reputation for disregarding it's users privacy concern, Google+ recently started deleting accounts of users who they say had fake or questionable user names, etc.,  Google+ & Facebook have a new competitor ONLYMEWORLD that doesn't ask it's users for their real names, and email addresses, allowing users to social network effectively, yet with some anonymity.  Easy to use and custom privacy settings.  Although still in Beta, and less then 20% complete, the site has the potential of becoming both Google+ & Facebooks rival before the Fall of 2011.

  • steve

    I totally agree.  Google really is leaving the market with very little sense of competition and that will ultimately be a bad thing for everyone long term.  Believe it or not, innovation is being stifled and jobs overall are suffering because of Google.  And you can forget about small new start-ups having much chance to even take seed; who will want to compete or invest against Google and Apple if there is even a slight overlap in market despite there being a potentially better product to be had.  Google can copy an idea overnight it seems and get away with it; they also have the cash backing to offer free premium services which nearly any other company would go broke in doing the same. 

    The only reason Google made Google Plus was because it was threatened by Twitter and Facebook's potential to offer a better personalized/real-time search engine - it had to kill its competition - and it is proving that it can do that with a crappy product and a truck load of user loyalty.   Soon it will take on Amazon and Netflix directly, and when that happens, well, what won't Google be able to defeat?  Even Apple then may be prone to defeat...

    There is a chance Google will slip up though; Google Wave was popular for a week, yet it ultimately failed, so Google Plus may fail too; who knows. and I believe Google will eventually fail as a whole; probably by means of its fan base eventually waking up and realizing the monster they had created, and if not the fan-base, the government hopefully.  Right now Google is cool, but it won't always be that way, and once that happens, it is game over.

  • John Lake

    My favorite part is how you just claim that all these will "pick up steam" as if you are some kind of expert rather than a virgin living in your mommy's basement with ZERO knowledge of the industry (as you so clearly are)

    Just a case in point...Gmail is BY far the biggest Google service other than Google.com.  And less than 1 out of ever 5 people on the internet have one.  Let's put it this way...if EVERY single person with a Google account signed up for Google+ (which sure as fuck is not going to happen), they would still have less than 1/4 as many users as Facebook.  And no..this is not changing.  Like I said...Google+'s pageviews are laughable and Facebook's traffic has not dropped AT ALL.  Not even 0.000000000000000000001% (the same percentage as the amount of brain you use) in the last month since Google+ started.  NO ONE is leaving Facebook for Google+.

    I bet you are so laughable clueless that you posted a blog (can't say article because that would imply actual journalism, and writing skills) about how PayPal's days were numbered.  And how YouTube better watch out for that upstart Google Video.

    The fact of the matter is, NO ONE at Google thinks that Google+ will ever come anywhere NEAR Facebook.  Larry Page himself would laugh at you like women laugh at you when you ask them out for even suggesting that that is possible.  Google fears Facebook FAR more than Facebook fears Google, and rightfully so.  By the end of that 18 months, Google will be the #2 site on the internet.  Check the trends.  It will happen much soon than that actually.

  • John Lake

    There are a LOT of delusional people who call themselves "bloggers" when in reality they are just unemployed writers.  But it is possible hat this is THE most delusional article ever.

    What is this success that you talk about?  Google+ sure as fuck is not a success unless you consider 1.2 page views per user per day a success.  (Since you are probably not smart enough to understand what that means...it means a lot of people are signing up and never coming back, which would explain the HUGE number of blank profiles.)  

    Google has NEVER successfully taken down an established market leader...EVER.  

    I just really don't understand what reality you live in.  I realize that the real world is very unkind to you.  You make no money, so you get no women (after all, "Hey baby...my welfare check just came...wanna help me spend it on the dollar menu?" does not get women hot.) Bu creating some fantasyland universe where your life is great is NOT the way to stave off suicide.