Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Who is the real competitor?

More than a decade, Microsoft Windows had enjoyed more than 90% market share on computers. Linux win some market share on the server front, Mac OS get 5% of the pie, and BeOS is almost gone; it seems like no one can threaten the giant, until a new breed of computer is born: smartphone and tablet. By 2014, Mobile Internet usage should overtake Desktop Internet, and the number of conventional computers (Desktop & Notebook) is shrinking. Microsoft Windows is not running on smartphone and tablet, and Windows Phone had less than 5% market share on mobile devices. Who would have thought that a Microsoft Windows killer is not another Desktop OS, but iOS and Android running on mobile devices? 

Google is the King of search (except in China, where Baidu owns 83% market share) with 66% market share, which dwarfed other competitors: Bing (15%), Yahoo (14%) and Ask (3%). Money is being invested to create better search engine, such as Blekko, Yandex, DuckDuckGo might be gaining some prominence; but many others failed miserably (I can’t even remember or google for their name anymore!). Who would thought Google Search’s enemy is Facebook, who control a significant amount of new content generated every day, which are inaccessible for Google Search? Not forgetting that “social” element is starting to play a role in search as well (not just pure data and result, but human’s relationship with the data: who recommend what).

From the above example, the real competitors emerged not by creating similar products in the same category, but by changing the source (the element which the dominant product is controlling or depending on). Microsoft Windows control the PCs, so iOS and Android replaced the PCs with mobile devices; Google Search depending on web content (the more content the better), and Facebook is controlling the new content.

What’s next? Facebook is the newcomer for the decade, and Google is challenging that with Google+. From my perspective, I would say Google+ is just an interim solution to wrestle some market share from Facebook and injecting social element into Google Search at the same time. Google+ will gain traction, but it’s unlikely to dethrone Facebook (unless Facebook did something really stupid, let’s see if adult-supervision model a.k.a Eric Schmidt for Google is overrated or not); and Google doesn’t have a significant advantage over Facebook’s resources and talent pool. I suppose the real question is: what is Facebook controlling or depending on? How to create a new application or technology to wrestle or replace this element?


  • Creating a better platform for content creation?
  • Creating a place for people to spend their time online every day?
  • Change how we connect with friends, again?
  • Perhaps something so seamless, that people aren't aware they are using it at all?

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