Tech Showdowns in 2010 (3 of 3)

As consumers continue to adopt new technology and integrate it into their lives, competition for their attention will increase substantially. As such, 2010 promises to be an exciting year for digital innovation and adoption. Unlike competition in more traditional industries, competition for the digital hearts and minds of consumers competes on features far more than just price.

My top three competitions to watch in 2010 are Google vs. Apple, Google vs. AT&T, and Google vs. Microsoft. In today’s post, I’ll explore Google vs. Microsoft.

Google vs. Microsoft

Google captured the hearts and minds of technology consumers years ago with a business model that delivered free, simple utilities like search and e-mail that worked flawlessly.  In recent years, the failures of Windows Vista have led analysts to contrast Google’s innovation-driven growth against Microsoft’s stagnant installed base of software.  Google’s nimble responsiveness to user input was a function of their technology model – web-delivered functionality from the cloud.  By contrast, Microsoft sold discrete units of software designed to run on a local machine, and profited when consumers purchased them instead of when they used them.

Google used their dominant position in search engine queries and strong public image to advance into new arenas. In the past 12 months, however, Microsoft has laid the groundwork for a strong comeback to challenge Google’s perceived or real dominance in the following markets:

Search – Google vs. Bing + Yahoo
With 7.2 billion daily page views and 85 percent of all web searches globally, Google clearly dominates the online search marketplace.  But Microsoft’s launch of the new Bing search engine has been well-received in the marketplace.  Microsoft’s recent announcement of a partnership with Yahoo will triple the search volume that Bing currently enjoys, which will accelerate Bing’s auto-learning functionality.  In a nutshell, this deal will substantially help Bing improve their search relevance.

Corporate E-Mail – GMail vs. MS Exchange + Outlook
For years, Microsoft has dominated the world of corporate email with the Exchange server that synchronized organizations with mail, calendar and contacts through Outlook and mobile devices via IMAP.  Google has attacked this stronghold vigilantly over the past year with Google Apps, a cloud-based alternative to Microsoft that provides enterprise-class email, calendars, contacts, chat, video and secure access to shared files for $50 per user per year.  Some large organizations switching to Google Apps include the city of Los Angeles Cap Gemini and Genentech.

Phone Operating Systems – NexusOne vs. Windows 7 Mobile
In a smartphone market dominated by Apple’s iPhone, Google’s NexusOne and Microsoft’s Windows 7 Mobile are both looking to capture a greater share of the “third screen.”  Since Google’s phone and Operating System are already launched, look for Google to aggressively build market share in advance of Microsoft’s Windows 7 Mobile launch later this year.

Web Browser – Internet Explorer vs. Google Chrome
Internet Explorer is the most widely used browser in the marketplace, but is losing share quickly to Open Source browsers like Mozilla’s Firefox (24 percent) and Google’s Chrome (5.6 percent).  Chrome was the only browser that gained market share in February 2010, but look for continued growth of both Open Source browsers as they continue to provide more features, faster browsing and fewer security risks.

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