From the market dominance to shrewd business practices, it's getting harder to tell the difference between the Microsoft and Google. Here are 10 reasons why Google is the new Microsoft.
3. It's the Platform, stupid
The core strategy for both Microsoft and Google has been to create a platform that keeps the user in each company's ecosystem. Microsoft led the way in the 1990s by distributing the most popular desktop operating system ever and offering tools that played nice with Windows, such as Microsoft Office, Internet Explorer and early online 'cloud-based' services like Hotmail.
In addition, it's making a big push to popularise web apps through its Chrome web store and the forthcoming web-focused Google Chrome OS. Google also recently stepped up its game in encouraging third-party development for its Android mobile operating system, with new features such as a web-based store for browsing apps and an in-app payment system.
Microsoft faced little challenge to its ecosystem in the 1990s, while Google faces formidable challenges from Apple's iOS platform for mobile devices and Facebook's continuing push to become the dominant platform on the Web.
4. Apple rivalry
After the release of Windows 95, Microsoft ate away at Apple's business, driving the Macintosh maker into a niche market. Microsoft's strategy of distributing Windows on as many platforms as possible was a huge success, a contrast to Apple's distributing of the Mac OS only on its own computers.
Fast-forward to 2011, and Google is trying to beat Apple's iPhone and iPad using a similar strategy: Although you will find iOS only on the iPhone and iPad, Android is on pretty much everything else, including devices from HTC, Motorola, Samsung and Sony. Android's smartphone market share is steadily overtaking that of iOS.
The most recent numbers from Nielsen say that new smartphone users are choosing Android devices over iPhones by nearly 15 percentage points, while the iPhone platform maintains an overall lead of about three percent. It hasn't happened yet, but Android is threatening to push iOS devices into a niche market much as Microsoft shoved aside Apple's Macintosh.
5. From rebel to lumbering giant
Microsoft started out as the plucky disruptor that popularised the PC graphical user interface through wide distribution and lower pricing compared with Apple's Macintosh OS. In a similar vein, Google was able to dominate search thanks to its amazingly relevant search results and its bare-bones homepage that featured the search box and nothing else.
Google's uncluttered front door and its eerie ability to deliver highly relevant results distinguished it from competitors such as Ask, MSN and Yahoo, all of which sported incredibly busy home pages, provided less-relevant results, and failed to make a clear distinction between sponsored ads and regular search results.
But as each company has dominated its respective industry, each has had to deal with the transition from fast-moving start-up to technology behemoth.
Google is trying to re-inject a startup mentality into the company. Many observers believe that this is part of the reason Google is shaking up its management structure by removing Eric Schmidt as CEO in favour of Google co-founder Larry Page.
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