Is Google at a Crossroads?
Google is one of the biggest technology companies in the world and is both a market leader and trail
blazer. They are ubiquitous with searching for anything online, they power more mobile devices than
anyone else and their advert distribution business is a money printing machine.
By digging a little deeper a few cracks start to appear.
Lets take Cloud computing to start with. Of the 3 biggest players in the market; Itself, AWS and Azure,
it is the smallest. Not only that but it is struggling to keep pace with the other two, AWS is turning our new features at an unbelievable speed, its reckoned they will make over 1000 new releases in 2018. Coupled with launching 4 years earlier its allowed AWS to build an enviable lead. Azure has able to capitalise on Microsofts deep long term trust and relationships with corporate customers to push its services and hold the number 2 spot in the market. It appears that Googles fewer cloud offerings and fewer enterprise relationships is hampering its success.
The death of Google+ has been well documented in the face of what Facebooks shows it could have become. There are many different reasons why Facebook worked and Google+ didn't, one being that once again Google was late to the game and Facebook had already acquired so many users that its momentum couldn't be stopped.
After the disaster of Google+, Google turned its attention to ‘Messenger’ platforms but once again it met an old enemy. By now, so many people were using Facebook regularly, they created their own messenger function within the platform. Google’s opportunity was to go after the dedicated mobile app messenger market and its main player at the time WhatsApp. However once Facebook bought WhatsApp it was effectively game over for Googles offerings.
The Grass is Greener
This all sounds a bit worrisome, or is there an upside?
As mentioned before, Android is powering more mobile devices than anyone else, with over 2 billion monthly active devices in 2017. All those users provide Google with the 2 things its needs most, vast quantities of data and billions of users. Combine the two and Google can provide the best adverts tailored to each person better than anyone else, all with the goal of keeping its advert money printing machine going.
All this data and personalisation has led to them creating the best personal assistant or AI available today. Google Assistant is far cleverer than Alexa and Siri isn't even worth mentioning in the same sentence. This means that whilst the personal AI Assistant race is far from over, it gives Google an excellent starting block to which it can build from and really create something game changing.
Yes I believe that Google is at a crossroads, its battling against multiple companies in multiple sectors whereas they’re only focused on one or two.
However I believe its biggest challenges are actually internal. Google pride themselves on knowing their engineers are the best of the best, but whilst their products may be superior they have frequently been late to market or have struggled to entice people to move to their services. The good news is that theses are easily fixable challenges. Getting leaders to divert resources and double down on big new markets is one option and identifying ways to appeal better to customers both big and small is another.
I think they will sort out their challenges but if not, I do see another complacent Microsoft In 3-5 years.