Google is the new Microsoft. Something tells me you've heard that one before. By my count, people have been saying that since 2005. But the question remains: Is it really a fair comparison?
Microsoft dominated the desktop computer industry for the past 15 years with purported ruthlessness and cunning business savvy. These days? Don't look now, but the role of the tech industry's biggest bully and most dominant force is increasingly played by Google.
If you compete with Google, you'd better be looking over your shoulder. Its search engine algorithm alone can make or break a business.
From privacy issues to market dominance to passion among fans and detractors to government scrutiny, Google and Microsoft share more similarities than you may realize.
In 2005, Microsoft cofounder and CEO Bill Gates had this to say about Google: "They are more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with." Far be it from me to argue with Bill Gates. Let's take a look at just how similar these two technology megacompanies are.
1. Core Dominance
The most obvious similarity between Microsoft and Google involves each company's ability to dominate its core industry. Microsoft has had well over 90 percent of the desktop operating system market since the days of Windows 95 and Windows XP. There are signs that Microsoft's dominance may drop significantly in the next few years due to the proliferation of devices running mobile operating systems, but Windows is still the king of the desktop.
Google doesn't have more than 90 percent of the search market, but there's no question that the company rules the search world. Google had nearly 67 percent of the search market in December, according to Comscore; the closest competitor was Yahoo, at just 16 percent of U.S. searches.
The biggest source of Google's online dominance is Web-based advertising. Google owned 83 percent of the highly lucrative online search advertising market worldwide in 2010 and 81 percent in 2009, according to metrics firm IHS Screen Digest. The search giant is making big gains in other areas of digital advertising, too: Google grabbed 59 percent of the U.S. mobile advertising market in 2010, up from 48.6 percent the previous year, according to IDC. (PCWorld and IDC are both owned by International Data Group.) That's a rise of nearly 11 percent in just 12 months. Google's acquisition of mobile ad network AdMob in May contributed to the company's massive leap in mobile advertising.
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