Monday, November 7, 2011

Google Not Dominant in Search?

Some will dismiss assertions by Eric Schmidt, Google executive chairman, that Google is not dominant in the search business, something Google Chairman Eric Schmidt recently told U.S. regulators.

Schmidt argued that Google is not “overwhelmingly dominant” in the online search market, and competes with the likes of Facebook, Apple, Yahoo and Microsoft. Google not dominant

Some will scoff at that notion, but there is a reality, namely that in the mobile domain, people do not "search" in the old way. Put one way, where traditional search is a relationship between "pages," in the mobile domain, search is more of a "relationship between persons," while the reason for "searching" changes.

In the desktop domain, search is often about information related to ideas and facts. In the mobile domain, search is more often about "things I want to buy." Google argues that leadership in desktop search does not ensure leadership in mobile search.

That has been a growing trend since the mid-2000s, one might argue. Mobile search is different

The mobile search market generated revenues of $901 million in 2010, equivalent to around three percent of total search revenues.  In 2015,  mobile search revenue is expected to  reach $8 billion, equivalent to around 11 percent of total search revenues and representing a compound annual growth rate of 55 percent. Mobile Search Challenges Google

Mobile search makes up around a quarter of total mobile advertising revenue, but this will increase rapidly and is forecast to exceed 40 percent in 2015.

Although Google already has a strong position in the mobile advertising market, a range of established and new players are challenging its dominance. Voice and local search are important trends, providing opportunities for new and established players. Operators and handset vendors have a strong position in the value chain to influence the success of mobile services.

In fact, many observers would note that Google is challenged by social networking generally, as social networks supplant search engines as the place and the way people look for things, find out about things and link to things.

So far, the historical record suggests that no firm dominant in one era of computing actually retains that same leading role in the following era.

As IBM was dominant in the era of mainframes, but DEC and others lead in the mini-computer era, while Microsoft and Intel lead in the era of personal computing, it is reasonable to expect that none of those firms will be dominant in the next era, however we come to describe it.

Some might argue that Schimdt's comments are merely a reflection of an understanding Google has that it will not, in the next era, have the market leadership it arguably enjoys today.

The issue, some might argue, is to avoid regulating based on the past, and act only when future problems actually have arisen. It might not be precisely true to argue that Google "does not" have a commanding position in desktop search.

But it already is clear that such leadership has not yet conferred on Google any ability to dominate the emerging "search" business, which is based on social networking and mobile mechanisms that increasingly are different from desktop search. Over time, in other words, Google's leadership in desktop search will be effectively challenged by other ways of using "discovery" mechanisms in the mobile and social realms.

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