Even before the recent launch of its Facebook-like application Buzz, Google was yet again generating plenty of buzz in multiple areas with new products. Once upon a time, it was all about Web search. No more. In 2009, Google introduced its first device, the Nexus One phone, a new collaborative tool called Wave, and a new music service. Meanwhile, in response to Hulu and other sites, YouTube struck deals with studios and networks to add premium content to the world's top online destination for video. At Google, the search for new opportunities and markets is never-ending.
Here's how Google is competing on multiple fronts with Amazon and Apple:
2009 revenue: $24.1 billion (est.), up 26%
2009 stock price: Up 176%
Acquisitions since 1/09: 3, notably Zappos ($1 billion)
Influence: Even minor features inspire awe.
2009 revenue: $36.5 billion, up 12%
2009 stock price: Up 146% Acquisitions since 1/09: 2, notably Lala ($80 million)
Influence: Even its rumored moves win kudos.
2009 revenue: $23.6 billion, up 8%
2009 stock price: Up 106%
Acquisitions since 1/09: 6, notably AdMob ($750 million)
Influence: Even its beta invites are coveted.
Amazon—Added video streaming to its cloud-computing service. Expanded video on demand in the online store, offering customers streaming access after buying select movies on Blu-ray or DVD.
Apple—Added video recording to iPhone 3GS and the next-generation Nano. More rumors: Will there be an iTunes subscription service to stream TV shows, as an alternative to cable packages?
Google—YouTube is the top Web video site, with more than 1 billion daily views. It has beefed up revenue attempts with authorized TV clips, shows, and movies from ABC, BBC, MGM, and others in exchange for splitting ad dollars. Also began testing a movie-rental service in January.
Amazon—Kindle 2 and DX sparked a boom in digital e-readers. The Kindle became Amazon's top-selling item across all product categories. It sold an estimated 2 million units, representing about 60% of the e-reader market.
Apple—New versions of the iPod Touch and iPhone 3GS spurred sales (Apple sold 8.7 million iPhones last holiday season). The iPad debut challenges Kindle—and laptops—head-on. With that settled, iPhone 4 rumors begin.
Google—Debuted the "gPhone," aka the Nexus One, in January to mostly favorable reviews but with tepid sales and customer-service complaints. Now competing against Android handset and carrier partners. Hardly seems worth it. Yet.
Amazon—Extended its PayPal rival to mobile phones, enabling Web retailers to offer one-click purchases. Its iPhone app, which lets shoppers compare prices and buy on the fly, is an m-commerce standout.
Apple—The App Store has more than 140,000 apps and 3 billion downloads. Revenue? An estimated $1 billion. Expect more growth with the iPhone's China launch. Apple's acquisition of mobile-ad company Quattro Wireless pits it against Google.
Google—Commands 86% of mobile-search market. Doubled audience in 2009, to 25 million searchers. Cool new services such as voice-powered search and Goggles camera-based search. Snared mobile-ad firm (and Quattro rival) AdMob. And oh yeah, Android.
Amazon—Amazon MP3 store is now preinstalled on devices such as Motorola's Droid and Palm's Pixi. Deals with Google Music Search and Vevo (Hulu for music videos) extend its store's reach.
Apple—The No. 1 music retailer, generating about $2 billion in 2009. Acquired streaming service Lala. Made Genius, its smart playlist and music-discovery engine, even smarter.
Google—Launched Music Search, working with Lala—before Apple bought it—to stream songs in search results and with Amazon to sell them. Out of every 10 Google searches, 2 are music related.
Amazon—Roiling the $25 billion publishing industry over release dates and pricing of Kindle titles. Controls two of the top three iPhone reader apps. Two-thirds of top Kindle downloads are free titles. Yet analysts project Amazon will sell $1.6 billion in Kindles and e-books in 2010. Launched an app store for the Kindle.
Apple—The iPhone is a stealth e-reader: Last September, e-books surpassed games in the App Store for the first time. E-book downloads, mostly free (Robert Louis Stevenson is back!), are expected to double this year. The new iPad is a color e-reader with backlighting and its own bookstore.
Google—Dreams of the world's biggest digital library are fraying at the edges. Anti-trust, anyone? Amazon and others oppose its settlement with publishers and authors. And—mon dieu!—the French ponder the legality of book scanning, even though more than 10 million books are digitized. Coming soon: Google Editions, its own e-book store.
Amazon—Hundreds of thousands of developers at startups, as well as Eli Lilly, eHarmony, and ESPN, use its cloud storage, computing, and other IT services. S3 storage business contains more than 82 billion objects and can get 100,000 requests a second.
Apple—The Lala acquisition last fall fueled rumors of an iTunes overhaul that would put music in the cloud. Users could stream their entire collection and find new songs anywhere via the Web.
Google—New collaboration tool Wave aspires to nothing less than replacing email with a marriage of social networking, writing, and photo sharing. Chrome browser surpassed Apple's Safari in market share. ChromeOS is on its way for netbooks later this year.