Google vs. Microsoft: Five Battleground Verticals for 2006
Right now, one of the biggest brouhahas in the tech world is between Google and Microsoft. The two companies have different strategies -- Google corralling the Web with advertising and online services, Microsoft protecting its software cash cows but hustling to catch up online -- but their efforts are leading them to the same vertical and media markets.
The real fight, the fight with a $15 billion purse, is the fight for online advertising. Judged by that metric, Google is winning hands down. The search and advertising giant claims about two-thirds of the online advertising market. Google also controls 44.7% of all searches, according to ComScore.
But Microsoft is stepping up to the challenge. Earlier this year they released their online ad technology, adCenter. They're also pumping dollars into their live.com iniatives, and they plan to spend $500 million this year on developing their online services.
Below, five verticals that promise to be interesting battlefields for Google and Microsoft throughout this year and the next.
Google is rumored to be working on a product called Google Health. According to VC Ratings, the product will help patients, doctors and vendors manage health information online. A friend in the biochem field says that his
company research facility is hosting Google interns this summer, who are learning more about what types of information doctors and scientists find useful. Earlier this year Google launched a product called Google Co-Op, a social search service which Google is undoubtedly monitoring to mine information about verticals like health.
Microsoft has health plans too. Their MSN Health site gets over 6 million unique vistors per month, and has grown about 27% since last year. Microsoft is planning to integrate MSN Health with other Windows Live services (navigating to health.msn.com redirects through the Windows Live login service now). Could Microsoft beat Google to the health punch this year?
The blogosphere was all in a tither recently when a blogger stumbled upon evidence of Google's online storage system, GDrive. The GDrive rumors have been circulating since March. Online storage would help Google ween users away from the desktop, where Microsoft rules.
Microsoft is also working on an online storage solution called Live Drive. Don't expect that one until at least 2007.
Radio and Audio
Google acquired dMarc earlier this year, and they're hiring ad sale executives and support techs. Google also recently sent a survey about radio advertising to current AdWords clients. But will Google's apparent foray into radio ads fare any better than its experiment with print? One would also expect that Google would get into podcasting (I've got a feeling that announcement's coming soon).
Nobody's talking about Microsoft doing radio ads, but Redmond has a healthy music and audio site. The company also offers an Internet radio service called MSN radio plus. Not to mention Microsoft's MSN deal with MTV called Urge. Urge is built into Windows Media Player 11. And don't forget that Microsoft is rumored to be launching an iPod-killer.
With Google Base and Google Checkout, Google has all the right ingredients for a classifieds and/or auction service. Google could potentially tie its other services into the mix. For example, uploads to Google Base via Google Desktop. By distributing products like these that perform discrete functions well, Google has the ability to connect them and create an eBay-like service that is present in multiple places (user web sites, Google Base) instead of just one.
Microsoft, meanwhile, revealed the public beta of Windows Live Expo in February, and set it free a few days ago. According to Microsoft, the site received 1.2 million uniques in June. Windows Live Expo combines aspects of Craigslist with social networking functions. Microsoft is also promising to integrate Windows Live Messenger and MSN Spaces.
Google's social networking service Orkut has been active for about two years. But it's more likely to generate child porn allegations and security problems than rave reviews, s this News.com article points out. Google also bought phone-based social networking service Dodgeball late last year, although there have been few changes to the service since.
Microsoft, meanwhile, has been working on social networking for at least three years. In April they licensed their Wallop technology to a new social networking company. These days they seem to be concentrating on Friends of Friends technology in Windows Live Messenger.