Currently Google has the largest market share in search and Microsoft is dominant in desktop PC software. Observers wonder if each will cut into the other’s domain or if the status quo will be maintained.
“Bing will certainly take share from Google’s search business, but isn’t strong enough to challenge Google’s overall leadership, making it an approach mirrored by Microsoft’s efforts with Zune,” said Rob Enderle, principal analyst at the Enderle Group. “Wave represents an effort to displace Microsoft entirely, but has a higher probability of failing completely and is also consistent with Google’s strategy with apps.”
Google’s Scattered Focus
The latest buzz on Bing is that the new search engine — or decision engine, as Microsoft likes to call it — might catch on with Internet advertisers or mobile users. That in itself would be a blow to Google. But that’s not Bing’s value proposition as Microsoft communicated it.
“Bing focuses on a few things that people do a lot online, like shopping and health-care research, and improves them substantially so the customer gets to a meaningful result much more quickly,” Enderle said. “If the model holds, Microsoft will wrap this with a marketing program that identifies the problem, establishes it as a problem Google has failed to address, and puts forth Bing as the solution. They should, if they execute sharply, take substantial share from Google with this effort.”
Neither Enderle nor most other analysts believe Bing will outpace Google long-term — unless Google stumbles. Still, Google been spreading its wings and flying around other projects that go well beyond search, like Wave. Microsoft may see this as an opportunity to get a step ahead.
Riding the Google Wave
Google previewed its Web-based Wave at the Google I/O developer’s conference last week. The Google Maps team, led by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, developed the application to allow people to communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps and other tools.
In Google Wave you create a wave, which often starts with instant messaging, and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets and even feeds from other sources on the Web. They can insert a reply or edit the wave directly.
Enderle said if Google succeeds with Wave, Microsoft Windows is rendered irrelevant and gets displaced. It could happen. Microsoft displaced a once-dominant Lotus by making it redundant.
In much the same way, Enderle said, Wave could make Windows redundant by capturing the interface and running on Windows via a browser. But if it proves successful, Wave will remove the application-compatibility tie to other platforms.
“In the end, if both firms are successful, the executives behind Bing will get bonuses and raises,” Enderle said, “and Google Wave will end up owning a big chunk of Microsoft’s existing revenue while taking only a relatively minor hit from Bing.”