Gaseous Brainstorm: Google’s Buzz is here, but who will win the Tech Wars?

February 10, 2010

Today Google launched Buzz. On the face of it, it’s a fairly small (and pointless) update to make their gmail service more social. With the ability to update your profile from within your email provider, t’s a direct attempt to compete with Twitter. However what it clearly shows is they also feel a huge threat from Facebook, who are rumoured to be launching their own email service soon.

 

The full extent to which the big tech companies are fighting for control of the web has only recently become apparent to me. It might just be that I’m a newbie in the tech world, or it might be that the companies are showing their teeth more and more in the battle for top dog.

 

It’s easy as a consumer/user of their products to see these companies as benign. Many people fall in love with their products due to the positive effects they have on their lives, and their simplicity and ease of use. I for example, find Google apps extremely useful. Gmail works like a dream compared to hotmail (though I still use both), I use Google Reader for most of my online reading and google docs enables me to easily access pdfs and my own writing wherever I can get online.

 

I love buying physical books from Amazon because it’s such good value, it’s quick and they have pretty much every book I could ever want. And as you know, I enjoy using Apple’s products because of their slick, simple interfaces which are geared towards creativity (however since my Macbook died on me at the weekend I am beginning to like them a lot less!)

 

Facebook is ok I suppose. I’m not a massive fan of the overcomplicated interface, much preferring Twitter for its easy real time conversation, but it is convenient to be able to maintain an ongoing, “ambient” connection with friends and family who you might otherwise not see or directly contact very often (note: I have quite strict privacy settings in Facebook as I use it exclusively to connect with those people I actually know face to face in real life). But it is becoming so popular, especially with the younger generation, who reportedly rarely visit blogs etc but find all the info through Facebook that some have suggested it may effectively replace the rest of the web in the future. This I find extremely scary.

 

And so clearly, do Google. If people start using email within Facebook, and searching for info within Facebook, they may never leave and therefore Google’s market share would wither and die. 

 

The basis of capitalism (put very simply according to my basic understanding) is that everyone benefits from competition as it leads to more choice, as well as increasing value and decreasing prices. But there can only be one market leader in each field. Now I would like Apple and Google to continue to work together – having Google search and Google maps as the default on the iPhone works wonderfully. But with the launch of Google’s Droid OS and now an actual phone, and with Eric Schmidt leaving Apple’s board last year, there are rumours that soon Bing will replace Google as the default search. Certainly Steve Jobs makes his views of his competitors clear in his post-iPad rant as widely reported by the tech blogs.

 

Personally I would rather each company stick to what they do best and co-exist peacefully. Of course, they have to acknowledge each others existence and provide linked services because that’s the way the web currently works. But when companies get to this size, they have their eyes on the ultimate prize – taking over the world. And so Buzz doesn’t provide any integration with Facebook, though it can be linked to Twitter.

 

Below is a chart showing what I perceive to be the places where the battle lines have been drawn. As I’m mainly concerned with the web, I’ve not gone into the hardware side of things in any detail (I’m least knowledgeable when it comes to Microsoft – they are clearly still leaders in terms of hardware & software sales despite being somewhat of a lumbering dinosaur when it comes to innovation.)

 

Also it was put together fairly hastily so please let me know if I’ve left anything out.

Apple vs Google (vs Microsoft)

Competing for control of the cloud & mobile computing (& search)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Online backup/applications: MobileMe (paid) vs Google Apps (free) vs Microsoft Office (rumoured to soon be a web-based version)

 

Browser: Safari vs Chrome vs Internet Explorer

 

Mobile browser: Safari OS vs Droid OS

 

Hardware : iPhone vs Nexus 1

 

Macs vs PCs

 

 Google Search vs Bing

Google vs Facebook

 

 Competing for the Social Web

 

 

 Web-wide connection: Google Friend Connect vs Facebook Connect

 

Email: new Facebook email vs gmail

Apple vs Amazon

 

 Competing for control of Ebooks and how they are consumed.

 

iPad vs Kindle

iBooks vs Kindle store

 

Apple vs Adobe

 

Competing for control of the interactive web

 

 

Flash vs html 5

 

Twitter vs Google vs Facebook

 

Competing to be king of search, real-time web and social networking

Twitter vs Facebook vs Buzz

(Facebook bought Friendfeed – Buzz has similar features)

 

Related articles elsewhere:

Google Just Declared War On Social Startups – Who Is Going Down? Via The Next Web

Facebook is the new threat to Google via The Guardian

Google Buzz: What It Means for Twitter and Facebook via Mashable

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