Google Versus Microsoft: In House Debate

    September 2, 2005

One of the biggest debates in this business right now is comparisons between Google and Microsoft. Bill Gates was recently quoted as saying Google is “more like us than anyone else we have ever competed with.”

Recently, in an article by our own Rich Ord, top dog here at our publisher iEntry, put his two cents in an article on the future of Google and their strong position in the future. WebProNews writer Jason Miller also published an in depth story covering possible directions for Google as well. We took Rich’s story into the WebProWorld Search Engine Insider forum and a solid and somewhat testy debate ensued and continues.

While a number of individuals have posted, Papadoc and SEOGuru, two relatively new posters have launched in their war of wits over the positives and negatives of Microsoft, Google, and to a lesser extent, Yahoo.

The debate seems to continue over the strengths of each. Some have even suggested Google might be considering an OS at some point with Googlites claiming it would be the proverbial baseball through Microsoft’s Windows. SEOGuru says that while he likes Google, there are still just a search engine and not a portal like MSN or Yahoo:

People think Google is bigger and more powerful than it ACTUALLY is. Sure, there is potential and these things are possible if the stars aligned and there was a plague of locusts. Your scenario is a seriously unrealistic reach and is actually less likely to happen from a company like Google. They are a SEARCH ENGINE. That’s all.

The debate continues to heat up a bit when Papadoc comes in:

I’m not so sure that we’ve even hit the tip of the iceberg when it comes to Google’s plans and potential. What people are seeing is that Google is basically acquiring a lot of seemingly unrelated pieces, but they are missing the fact that there is a purpose in doing so, and subterfuge isn’t bottom on that list. Seoguru made the valid point that none of their “items” have anything to do with their core competencies. True… now! But don’t paint Google into any corner just yet. They haven’t even been around long enough to define themselves as a company. Google is building new competencies and won’t even be thought of as a search company in another 5 years.

Interestingly enough, while this debate is certainly good with many great points, Gord Hotchkiss of Enquiro wrote for Media Post’s Search Insider had a great article on the matter. I think that one section of his feature was perhaps the most intuitive and the most true:

Rockefeller’s Choke-Point Strategy John Rockefeller was the master of identifying and controlling the choke points of an industry. These are the points that allow absolute control over access to a market. With Rockefeller, it was the distribution of the oil that drove all industry. Today, the choke point is access to the desktop. And guess who’s sitting right on top of it? Mr. Gates. In fact, he has a double hold on us. The reason Microsoft destroyed Netscape in the browser war was to control a choke point. Now, as long as Window’s dominates as the operating system (OS) we use, Microsoft controls the ultimate choke point. Nothing can get to us through our computer unless it passes through the OS first.

Currently, Google is building a war chest. They know as long as they’re not in control of the choke point, they’re incredibly vulnerable. The recent activity shows Google desperately trying to add layer upon layer of touch points with its user base. Chat through Google. Network socially through Google. E-mail through Google. Search the desktop through Google. Unfortunately, each layer is built on the Microsoft OS. It’s like building your fort on enemy territory. At some point, the landlord may just kick you out. And I’m not sure $4 billion is enough to change that.

Regardless, this debate is far from over. With Google sitting on large sums of cash, the industry is rife with speculation and since Microsoft and Google are currently locked in a legal battle over Dr. Lee, it seems that battle is a very real one. As Miller put it, “Microsoft is Coca Cola. It’s part of the world psyche.” Google’s not quite there yet. They may become Pepsi but overall, Coke still dominates the cola market world wide. Pepsi is a solid number two, but they are number two.

If you want to check in on this heated debate and even participate, check out WebProWorld.

John Stith is a staff writer for WebProNews covering technology and business.