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.
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…
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…
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.
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.
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.