What a difference a decade makes. The New York Times reported on Wednesday that Microsoft will file antitrust charges against Google in Brussels today. Just about a decade ago circumstances were reversed as Microsoft was the 800-pound gorilla in the operating system world. Today Google is the monster of search and all things related to it and Microsoft is looking to level the playing field for bing, its late entry into the search field. Timing is everything in this business.
From the Times article — Michael A. Cusumano, a professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology’s Sloan School of Management who has studied Microsoft said, “The company that was the 800-pound gorilla is now resorting to antitrust, where it is always the case that the also-rans sue the winners.”
That might be a bit harsh on Microsoft but the reality is that it coasted on the success of Windows and Office and a few other products while others invented new technologies. You might also say that the company was involved in a protracted legal tussle with the Department of Justice over its monopoly position in operating systems and browsers during that time. But that would imply the company couldn’t walk and chew gum, not something any self-respecting multi-tasking operating system vendor would willingly admit to.
There’s a lot at stake and search is only one of Microsoft’s beefs. Others include access to YouTube (a Google property) and mobile operating systems. If past is prologue this should provide entertainment for several years.
“Day-to-day adult supervision is no longer needed.” So wrote Eric Schmidt CEO of Google, one of the most successful digital economy companies ever, in a Tweet today. When he was brought in by the founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin to run things in 2001, Schmidt acquired that moniker in part because the founders were so young.
As has been typical in Internet related industries youth and a new way of looking at things has often been enough to launch iconic brands and mind-boggling wealth. Google may have been the poster child for youthful innovation but the industry is full of people from Bill Gates to Mark Zuckerberg who fit the mold.
So now what? Co-founder Page becomes CEO as well as president of products while co-founder Brin remains president of technology. The company is clobbering its numbers and despite a challenge from Facebook and continues to print money for its shareholders.
I do not understand why the shakeup occurred. According to Google this change will make communication channels cleaner but it’s hard to see how from outside. The trio appears to still be friends but perhaps a decade at the helm has sated Schmidt. Or possibly the two still youthful co-founders have a second act. But if that were the case, it is hard to believe they could not have acted from their previous positions as mere presidents. We may just have to watch as this company continues to evolve.
Facebook got more visits than any other web property in 2010 according to an article in Computerworld. Hitwise, an Internet analytics firm said that between January and November 2010 Google, which had the top spot in 2009 slipped to second with 7.19% of all visits compared with Facebook’s 8.93% share.
Also, for a snapshot in time, another research group, comScore said that for the month of August U.S. users spent 41.1 million minutes on Facebook compared to 39.8 million minutes on Google’s constellation of sites.
Now, on the face of it, that might suggest that Facebook is superior to Google and in some ways that might be true but which ways? It is a bit of apples and oranges and we need more data to sort this out—data that might not exist yet.
Consider this, according to a Jess3 video, “The State of the Internet” 84% of social networking sites have more women than men. I am not saying that’s good or bad but if women are more social, I wonder if they also ask for directions more than men and if that’s reflected in the demographic breakdown for Google.
I also wonder what these numbers have to do with doing business. Are visitors to Facebook more or less business oriented than visitors to Google and all of its applications? Also, what comparison can we make between Facebook and LinkedIn? Is 41.1 million minutes—about 342.5 U.S. work-years—on Facebook in August a good thing?