Thursday, September 28, 2006

Microsoft and/or Google? Competitors? Or Just Neighbours?

A fascinating but rather dated article caught my attention as I was taking my daily dip into the blogosphere. It brings up an interesting debate that continues to rule the realms of both the corporate and information world: is Google taking over Microsoft's reign? Or are they even competitors in the first place?

According to Why Microsoft can’t best Google, the answer is yes, Google will rule the day (which is tomorrow). Here is why Phil Wainewright thinks so:

(1) Microsoft wants everyone to have a rich desktop experience, Google wants everyone to have a rich Internet experience.
(2) Microsoft's business model depends on everyone upgrading their computing environment every two to three years. Google's depends on everyone exploring what's new in their computing environment every day.
(3) Microsoft looks at the world from a perspective of desktop+Internet. Google looks at the world from a perspective of Internet+any device.
(4) Microsoft wants computers to help individuals do more unaided. Google wants computers to help individuals do more in collaboration. In the Internet age, who wants to work alone any more, when all the unexplored opportunity is in collaborative endeavor?
(5) In a few year's time, who's going to still be working at a desk anyway?

The most interesting food for thought comes from the blog comments. Take a look. Apparently, the reactions are mixed; not everyone thinks that Google and MSN are competitors. One commentator argued that it's comparing "apples to icebergs." In my opinion, Google is certainly moving into MSN's dominance and in many ways (but not all), has surpassed it. However, one piece of technology which has never taken off has been Googletalk, which is supposed to be the rival to MSN Messenger. On the other hand, Gmail is slowly but surely equalling MSN Hotmail in terms of popularity (and definitely ease of use). Time will tell who will win, or whether winning is the end goal...


Dean Giustini said...

This is a very sophisticated post. I think one of the challenges for Microsoft is that desktop isn't enough; the integrated Internet experience is the future. That means every application will be via the Web, including those applications normally reserved for MS Office. I think that freaks Microsoft out. Google understands the web as platform, and even though they don't always win the battles, they are clearly winning the war.


Allan said...

It's interesting that Microsoft is not often visionaries and pioneers. According to "World War 3.0" by Ken Auletta, Bill Gates was originally not interested in divesting that much energy into the internet. Up until 1996, Gates believed that the future of MSN was in private corporate networks or intranets, as wel as proprietary online services such as MSN, and interactive television. Even his first book (which was a huge fad for a moment) in 1995 downplayed the internet, citing it less frequently than television and the telephone.

Ironically, it was shortly after the book, that Gates changed course and steered 180 degrees the opposite way and argued for the "Internet Tidal Wave" and began the now infamous Netscape wars.