Amazon and rise of mobile challenge Google’s search position, says chairman

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Credit: Reuters

Concerns over Google’s search dominance are unfounded at a time when desktop searches have declined to 40 percent and a growing number of people are turning to Amazon or social networks like Facebook to find answers and recommendations.

Those are some of the arguments that Google Chairman Eric Schmidt put forth in a speech in Berlin on Monday, in an apparent pushback against calls by European politicians and media to slap new regulatory controls on [company]Google[/company].

Schmidt’s speech aimed to frame Google not as an 800-pound gorilla, but as part a larger tech universe where powerful companies lose their crowns with surprising speed:

Look at [company]Yahoo[/company], Nokia, [company]Microsoft[/company], [company]Blackberry[/company] and others who seemed unrivaled just a few years ago, but were disrupted by a new wave of tech companies, Google among them. […] You look at Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon and say there’s no way competitors can beat them. I’m less certain.

Schmidt also took a swipe at [company]Expedia[/company], [company]Yelp[/company], and [company]TripAdvisor[/company], which compete with Google in fields like travel, saying these rivals fail to acknowledge how quickly the web is involving and would “rather go back to 10 blue links.”

The speech also drew special attention to Amazon, calling it Google’s biggest competitor in search, and pointing to research that suggests a third of people looking to buy something begin on Amazon.

Unsurprisingly, Schmidt did not draw attention to emerging areas like health, robotics or cloud computing where Google could one day become a force like it is in search.

While Schmidt’s speech is obviously designed to help Google fend off anti-trust accusations, some of it appears well-founded. Increasingly, [company]Amazon[/company] or Facebook or various other sites are people’s entry point to the web, while the switch from desktop to mobile computing means Google’s search box is not as ubiquitous as once it was.

For now, however, Google has its hands full in Europe as a result of new “right-to-be-forgotten” rules, in addition to a long-running, and still unresolved investigation, into how the company treats competitors’ search results.

3 Comments

Brett Hallinan

It’s an interesting topic. Google has become what MSFT was 15 years ago. It’s a love/hate relationship with clients. No one is comfortable with their dominance. That said, I do my searching with Google and shopping with Amazon, so I see Schmidts’ concern. Which consumer channel is more valuable? There’s a reason Google is getting into the shopping delivery business. Amazon Prime is very successful and it changes consumer behavior.

I’m closely watching the evolution of platforms and how user behavior changes. This is where the disruption will occur. Will this leave Google exposed in the long run? Clearly mobile is having a major impact. Apple is the dark horse that I’m curious to watch. Their dominance in mobile could easily be leveraged to greatly impact Google’s search business. Apple is getting into so many other businesses that I’m a little surprised they don’t go after Search. You don’t need to look any further than the Comscore market share for mobile map apps to see the potential. As shaky as Apple Maps was at launch, they’ve made great improvements going forward and are chipping away at marketshare.

wallt

Yelp doesn’t compete with Google – Google decided they wanted to compete with Yelp and then began pushing Yelp’s pages down the results list to make it work. Typical Google style talk from Schmidt. Google is innocent and not evil at all.

fjpoblam

He’s right, of course. Who needs the Gorg anymore? Are your servers feeling unloved, Eric Schidt?

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