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Eric Schmidt was doing his level best late last week not to gloat. With Microsoft dropping its attempted takeover of Yahoo, the Google chief executive had just seen his arch-rival abandon its most direct attack yet on Google’s growing dominance of online search and advertising.
“I’m happy to be crowned winner,” Mr Schmidt said, before quickly adding: “But as we’ve learned in the election cycle, it goes back and forth.”
“The failure of the Microsoft/Yahoo merger eliminates the biggest short-term threat” to Google’s unrivalled position on the web, says David Yoffie, a professor at Harvard Business School. For now, its momentum “seems unstoppable”. Michael Cusumano, a management professor at Massachusetts Institute of Technology, describes Google’s now-unchallenged dominance even more bluntly: “They’re sitting on a goldmine.”
Some commentators believe it's over, for now. I'm inclined to agree, however, it's just as likely to swing away as fast, unless Google keeps up the pressure. The market leader always has the biggest competition snapping at their heels.
When I got online in 1998, my daughter set Yahoo as my start page, and they were using Alta Vista for search at the time - which I thought *was* search altogether in my very first few days. It didn't last too long after that, that AV *was* search for a lot of people.
Yahoo actually gave Google their jump start and put them on the map with giving them the search contract, and here's a thread from down memory lane from the time that it was pending whether Yahoo would renew the contract with Google. Inktomi was wooing Yahoo at the time.
<slightly off topic>
Don't miss the link to the AV thread (forum 1)
It's a classic on life and times in search during that period of time.
</end off topic>
Difference between Alta Vista and Google?
Alta Vista wrote cutting edge technology.
Google just buys it.
Google may be easier to unseat than most might think.
It's so much easier to manipulate code that someone else wrote than it is to write it yourself, and Google knows it.
When it comes to winning the war in the race for users on an emotional level, Google is untouchable. The public doesnt't buy steak, they buy sizzle; and Google is red hot.
You could say that MSFT has billions in infrastructure in Windows and Office and I'm sure they do but those apps are not in the CORE of what people do in such a way that they can't be beaten or replaced. If more people knew about Open Office and companies were comfortable with it that could really dent MSFT Office sales.
If mobile stuff really picks up and there is a fundamental shift to everyone using cell phones & PDAs and Google isn't there, then they could lose out on that.
People are always going to search for stuff. Plain text search is simple, easy to understand intuitive and isn't going anywhere. People aren't always going to use FaceBook or MySpace and those things will probably die in the next few years or at least not generate any significant revenue unless the branding dollars pour in which might chase everyone away as the site becomes a commercial landfill. They really aren't a part of the CORE of the Internet and the intent behind going there is more to socailize than to transact. If your friends all move onto some new social site, you'll probably go to. You don't really care what search engine your friends use and what would really be that much different about another search engine? There are multimedia search engines, visual search engines, fancy flash and AJAX search engines but compared to Google and even LIVE it doesn't seem like anyone really uses them.
Plain text search has the most sustainable long-term revenue model too. Everyone there has an intent to find something with a decent chance that what they want to find ends up in some kind of transaction that exchanges money, personal info which has some kind of commercial value.
Personally, I think most display advertising online is worthless in most cases. It doesn't appear in the path of users intent most of the time. TV and radio don’t necessarily either but in those mediums, the user is in a more passive mindset, not actively reading an article and probably more receptive to at least gazing at the ads or remembering a creative radio jungle. The persons mind is in a more “relaxed” state. How many of those Internet media campaigns can show a positive ROI or even generate more in sales revenue than just the media cost? If you count people who visit a page where an ad is loaded and get cookied on the view, they can look great especially if the targeting is setup to serve the ads to people who have already been to the site but based on click-through data, not a chance.
Anyway, if you master plain text search which will always be a fundamental behavior online and you are collecting more data about what people do and how they behave with respect to text search and the barrier to entry is likely to be a billion or more in hardware, software and technology, how does another company that doesn't have the resources of MSFT unseat Google? I just don't see it. I wish I did see something else out there that could give em' a run for the money but I don't.