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Reporter- 07 October 2009
Apple recently rejected the Google Voice application from Google for its iPhone on the grounds that the app fundamentally changed the look and feel of the iPhone’s unique interface. In short, Apple has begun to worry that Google is now set to invade its space with what has now become a common strategy – offering free software or applications to users.
Increasingly, Google is being seen as the Microsoft of the new millennium. From its humble beginnings as a search engine, Google now spans a number of areas including social networking, office productivity tools and ebooks. With the Android mobile platform, Google has already invaded the mobile platform. And in ways reminiscent of Microsoft in the 80’s, it is now fast becoming the standard in a number of these areas. Google next plans to launch its own operating system, which will take it to the pinnacle point in terms of software development for the consumer space. No wonder that Apple feels threatened.
In many ways, Google resembles the Microsoft of old. However, to ensure it does not run afoul of the regulators as Microsoft did, it will have to learn the lessons of Microsoft fast. Google today is of a size where it has few competitors. In fact, it is in a position to up root any competition that emerges in a market where Google dominates. However, any attempt to do so will create the same kind of negative backlash that Microsoft generated when it went after Netscape’s Navigator browser.
Microsoft was involved in years of litigation with the government over the violation of antitrust laws (essentially laws that prevent monopolies and unhealthy competition in the US). Google seems to be under threat of going the same way, with its free browser, free operating systems for mobile and netbooks, and the free office productivity suite it offers to customers gaining marketshare rapidly. In fact, the Google Docs online application brought the company in direct conflict with Microsoft whose Office Suite has dominated the productivity market for years.
Apple has been added to the competition recently, and this is definitely cause for worry for the maverick company that is itself known for challenging mainstream perceptions through innovation. Researchers estimate that Google will continue to focus on the mobile platform as that is the new growth segment which it cannot ignore for its search application. The segment of mobile platform browsing has seen tremendous growth and will continue to do so as speeds pick up. Consumers are becoming more accustomed to using their smartphones to access real time information and even pay for purchases, hence the fight to dominate the sector.
The reason Google is so focused on garnering marketshare is the lucrative search advertising model on which its search engine thrives. The company will continue to get into any market where it feels it can apply the business model successfully. With T-mobile and Motorola launching Android based phones; the base of operations in the mobile space is now established. T-mobile’s G1 phones powered by Android have in fact sold over a million units already.
But it is the dominance of the search market that could spell trouble for Google as it could wipe out any competitor due to its revenues and dominance in search. So strong is its presence that Microsoft had to tie up with Yahoo to offer a competing search platform, called Bing. This is one credible challenge that Google could face.
Google is slowly becoming an information behemoth. It will have to face concerns of data security and management as it keeps growing. The day is not far when Google will know the kind of mail you receive, the content you browse and the places you shop online. That is a scary thought, as Google turns into the modern day version of George Orwell’s central figure Big Brother, in the novel 1984.