Business models that Google will eat up
Sometimes my mind plays the Gemini tricks. Indecision. Yet sometimes I grant it the liberty to fly. Like when I am in one of those futuregazing whims.
Been observing the case of some niche services around Social Media offerings that have entered the market and got themselves flush with VC money. One cannot but wonder if they are riding the wave OR really have a solid ground OR are here for the taking (buyouts). Or worse, for the kill (low entry barriers by more established players).
Come to think of it. The web is becoming dangerously monopolistic. Or maybe cartel like. Or maybe we need to device a new term.
Where the big 5 or so players (across media/platform/services) take over anything with a probable potential. Like the lesser publicized acquisitions made by Amazon. Or in cases where they can’t, they decide to kill the infant in the cradle. By launching against their offerings with their own version- only with bigger and better resources.
Ironically, many a times, it might not be so evil as it sounds. Specially in cases where research has already been done, markets have already been explored and a solid product has already been delivered.
In such a scenario, if there is a new product in the market that sells due to package innovation, and makes money (and noise), there are obvious reasons (and lesser barriers) for the bigger brand to get a foot in that market’s door.
I talked about the lesser known case of Amazon acquisitions. Now take the more well known case of Google. Probably the most powerful force on the web- with its fingers in every pie and head in the rolling cheese.If it wanted, what are the new offerings it could eat up today- if it wanted to?
And Google is just an example. Though a strong contender to bulldoze through many niche and upcoming services, there are some services dangerously in Google terrain and so especially susceptible. I am listing three of those here.
- Buzz monitoring/Social Conversations
- The PR folks have ruled and brought about the Web 2.o communications revolution, according to me. And they probably brought with them this entire idea that people are talking about brands in online various online forums. “If you could track down how many events for discussion around your brand are taking place- it would give you unprecedented tracking abilities”.
- Sure enough- many companies including traditional research agencies to web security agencies to nimble programming-business brains- sensed the opportunity and launched products that are being sold and used by many today.
- Companies- the likes of Google- have been delivering some of these services since ages. Google has services like Alerts, news, Blog search, maps and local search, trends, insights and now the likes of Video insights. These products are free to use.
- So if there are free products, why would someone pay? The common contention for going to paid services is that they have less noise and could dig deep into forums etc- sections not indexed well by Google (or others) Other reasons listed here . Alongside others contend that the tools don’t matter, efforts do.
- The question then is- how much does it take Google to scale up/package? It already has the reach and the infrastructure. Not to mention the products.
- Sentiment tracking/Social conversation Search
- This is another differentiation by the niche service providers. While the likes of Google could provide instances, how would you know their relevance and context? Enter Sentiment tracking- where these companies identify positive or negative references in context of your brand
- How do they do that? Many ways- including ‘semantic’ methods to a mix of human-machine analysis.
- Again, the likes of Google have been doing this research for ages now. If they want to enter this space, will they hesitate?
- Examples of both buzz/sentiment (and others like influencer tracking etc) are Radian6, Buzzmetrics/Nielsen Blogpulse, Techrigy, Samepoint, jamieQ, CC, Brandtology- just a few that are top of my mind
- Enterprise Group Collaboration systems
- There has been a lot of talk around Social Media-tizing the organisation. Inspite of the fact that many group collaboration systems have been around since ages, like (Zoho or webex), the social media element was missing. Of course they are charged for, or at best freemium.
- So smart entrepreneurs grabbed a chance at it- and developed products that employees could use for better project management efficiencies (like Yammer, or SocialWok- a good Asian alternative) and where employees could co-ordinate via tweets 0r other popular social media tools
- Google has been delivering some good products around the enterprise space. Their offerings on emails on custom domains etc have been quite successful. Similarly Yahoo with small biz solutions. Lately with the demonstrations of Google wave, it becomes clear that the likelihood of Google entering this space is not a remote concept to say the least.
- Real time search
- This is where the big fight is. Though many smaller players are in the fray, the frenzy of the big guys is what makes this a different category
- Another reason that niche conversation tracking tout- real time search for “in time crisis management”- is where the big guys have already taken big steps
- Facebook and Twitter are in the fray, with Google already working on some solutions in this area (Google Caffeine)
- This is the area where the fight is concentrated right now
- Latest developments like Facebook buying FriendFeed might have future impact in this domain
- On Facebook’s search capabilities, Mashable reports: While the new Facebook Search only launched this week, the new real-time search platform can search far more than status updates. With access to 250+ million users, the world’s largest social network can tap into photos, links, events, apps, and more for its new search engine.
Long post. I will try to highlight in the next post why historical evidence proves it might not be such a bad thing for the niche players.
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