Tuesday, November 08, 2005
In Google's Company
That depends on the scope of services (search and non-search) that you consider and when you consider. Clearly, the core list is clear: Microsoft, Yahoo and AOL. The following link gives a good comparison.
If I were to add to this list, I would include eBay and Amazon for sure.
However, what makes Google interesting is that such straightforward comparison of features and services perhaps miss the larger point: Google has the potential to impact the competitive strategies of a far larger set of firms than these firms.
What about advertising? Clearly, search is a means to an end and Google has done a great job so far of monetizing search through advertising. So, what will the advertising industry look like in the next five years? What role will Google play in the lucrative part of media planning and media buy? Will it play a role in combining offline and online advertising?
Or what could Google News do to newspaper companies? Not that the newspapers will become extinct tomorrow but the ability of newspapers to have close customer connections will be diminished substantially. Where will customer loyalty migrate? Who will get to capture the cash register? What role for personalization of news for multiple sources and different formats?
Or look at media and entertainment in an era of mp3, itunes and podcasting. What will be the shape of on-demand multi-media entertainment in the future? What role will Apple have in the space? What role of Microsoft media server in high definition? Or its Xbox? Can Sony reshape itself in the age of Google to extract a fair share of its profits? What about other media companies such as Fox, ABC-Disney and NBC Universal? Cable and satellite operators?
There is a strong rumor that Google is working on a new payment mechanism along the lines of PayPal (or some variant). There are even rumored names (Google Purhase or Gbuy). When Google launches its beta version, we will know for sure and its specific distinguishing features. What will the impact of such a mechanism on financial services? And more importantly: how will Google use data from a payment mechanism to better target advertisement and fine tune its services?
I am also watching to see how Google will begin making money on the mash-ups that use various services from Google, Yahoo, Amazon and others (http://www.programmableweb.com/). Monetizing new services based on information linked across different sites could be new avenues for business innovations. I only hope that we will pay particular attention to the monetizing part that we seem to have missed during the dot-com boom.
So, who do you put on Google’s cross-hairs?