Google vs. Apple, Google vs. Facebook, Google vs. Microsoft… Google vs. the Rest of the World?
The impact caused by new technologies in our lives is an interesting subject for those who are passionate about innovation. When new technologies emerge, electronic products reach the masses, opening an interesting field of study about the competition between companies and their strategic movements. Google, the dominant internet force because of its search engine and many other products, has many business fronts. As a consequence, this company has to deal with several competitors simultaneously. According to the company´s statements, Google positions itself as an organization that helps its clients to find and to filter information.
Google competes with Apple, mainly in the operating systems segment, where there is the duo Android / Google as against the iOS / Apple one. By having a global market share of 75%, Android is the clear contest winner (not bad for a product whose first version was released in 2008). One reason for this overwhelming success is that Android is an open source operating system (an open source code) which allows that the software can be freely modified by hardware manufacturers (tablets and smartphones), mobile companies and application developers. As a consequence, users of electronic devices prefer hardwares with the Android which eventually led phone manufacturers to adopt the Android system as well. In terms of iOS, the Apple Inc. does not authorize the installation of the operating system on other companies` products.
Google also competes with Facebook Inc. (FB), but in this case we have a tie. In the advertising revenues and services front, Google is the winner with earnings of US $ 50 Billion in 2012, while Facebook came to about US $ 5 Billion in the same period. On the other hand, Facebook users base has more than a Billion users compared to just over 400 Million Google`s+ users. If FB could turn “Like” clicks into “Buy” clicks, then this company could become the (new) dominant force in the internet.
Microsoft Corporation, owns a search engine named Bing which is not a real oponente to Google´s search engine. This is a clear case of First Mover Disadvantage (the reverse of the First Mover Advantage which is a very common concept in business strategy). Additionally, it seems that Google is much better placed on the market than Microsoft due to cloud applications (cloud computing). Finally, there is an image contest won by Google which has been seen as a modern, trendy and innovative company while Bill Gates` enterprise has become a synonymous for establishment, old-fashioned company, the “dark force” of the internet.
From the strategic point of view and according to competition analysis, several activities performed by certain companies in this sector are very interesting and deserve to be analyzed, though the full impact of these activities is not entirely clear yet.
- Google entry in the hardware segment, with the acquisition of the mobile devices division of Motorola. This purchase was announced in August 2011 and aimed to obtain many patents that Motorola had registered in its name. However, this acquisition transformed Google into a hardware manufacturer, in other words, a potential competitor to the hardware manufacturers that use Android in their devices. From these companies´ points of view, Google became a potential competitor. Several questions arise here: Will the Android still remain for free? Will the updated versions of Android be released only for Google own devices? What are the risks of this acquisition, since Android growth was just a consequence of its adoption by various hardware manufacturers?
- The internet is increasingly more mobile because of the internet access via smartphones and tablets. If Facebook has not yet learned how to properly monetize its huge user base, will this company be successful to monetize this same base while becoming progressively a mobile application?
- Research in Motion (RIM), as the BlackBerry manufacturer, has been a leader in the Smartphone segment before Apple`s entry in this sector. Recently (Q1 2013) the company announced its new operating system and two smartphone models. Does the company provide applications in such quantity in order to encourage users to change and to replace their phones by RIM´s devices? Analysts say this is the last chance for the Canadian company to regain its relevance, since Blackberry has already dominated the Smartphone market once..
- Social Networks: The growing of Google´s social network has surprised industry experts. Although Google+ is still not a significant competitor to Facebook, only minor missteps regarding use of confidential information are necessary to injury Facebook´s reputation, which may cause social media addicts to migrate to Google+.
During the development of this text, I came across the following map. My goal with it is not to show the strategic options that each company has, but to present the various fronts of competition they face.
For the curious minds, l leave the following thought provocations:
a. What is the mobility`s impact of the above-mentioned scenario? Who wins and who loses?
b. What is the impact of Samsung´s business strategy, since it is currently selling more tablets than Apple?
c. We are living today in an increasingly Keynesian world … Which company is more exposed in terms of governmental regulattion and risks?
d. With the Passing of Steve Jobs, will Apple still remain the same?
My warmest thanks to Albany Estrela Herrmann, M.A, english and german translator. Ms. Herrman works as a Portuguese translator/interpreter at various German Automotive Plants and as a teacher for Business Corporate Courses (for expatriates). Her client list includes Bosch, Keiper-Recaro Group, Mann + Hummel Filters, Hirotec Corporation, Mercedes-Benz AG, Daimler AG, VHS Leonberg, University of Tübingen and Aula-Viva Institute. She holds a Master of Arts degree in Applied Linguistics (Portuguese, Spanish and Italian) from the Eberhard Karls Universität, Tübingen – Germany
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