It’s unlikely that any one company will be able to compete and completely take over from Google, for a number of reasons. First of all, Google is ubiquitous and has an incredibly high profile, which gives it a competitive edge. Also because the company has liquid cash, it has been able to acquire many smaller brands, some of which you will have heard of like Android and YouTube. It has also made lots of smaller acquisitions including Waze and in October this year it bought Famebit, which helps companies get product placement in YouTube videos. All of these acquisitions enables Google, step by step, to stay ahead of the competition. Secondly the company employs brilliant staff, and its reputation means it can afford to hire whoever it wants.
Of course, it would be ignorant to say there’s no way anyone can take on Google, and other companies are already competing in some fields. For example, Facebook is beating Google hands down in advertising simply because everyone wants to use Facebook as a platform, which leaves lots of data and digital trails to help companies target their advertising campaigns. Facebook allows advertisers to drill right down to target specific audiences. We call this ‘granulation’ and there is more granulation on Facebook than there is on Google.
The cost of advertising on Facebook is also lower. Everyone is aware of Google Adwords but not so many people are yet aware of Facebook Ads. This is therefore an example of an area where Google can perhaps be beaten, as Facebook Ads gathers momentum. Like Google, Facebook has also made lots of smart acquisitions such as Instagram and WhatsApp, providing yet more data.
“Advertising and social networking are areas where Google can be beaten.”
The other areas where other companies can challenge Google are social networking and cloud work. Google tried entering the market with networking platform Google + but it wasn’t as good as expected and I imagine the company will eventually retire this product. Google also has Google Docs and Google Spreadsheets which are up against Microsoft Word and Excel. I don’t think many professional businesses will replace Microsoft products with Google cloud sharing on a day-to-day basis so again this is an area where I don’t think Google will be the market leader.
Google is also hitting a ceiling in terms of revenues and users and there is much less room to grow organically, so we’re going to see a lot more acquisitions, which will inevitably lead to a debate over whether one company should be that strong. Remember when Google invented its own browser, Chrome? Many people were asking why the company felt the need to enter that market going against Firefox, but Chrome is a dominant browser and it’s an amazing tool.
So while I don’t think any one company will challenge Google’s position, particularly in search, I think there are several areas that Google operates within where other companies may be able to become market leaders, such as advertising, or cloud sharing systems.