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Google Is Winning the Ecosystem War

Which ecosystem am I talking about?

Which ecosystem am I talking about?

IBM had ruled and still rules the mainframe ecosystem . But the game changed!

Microsoft lorded over the desktop ecosystem. It still does but we all know that the game is changing again.

But what is the new game?
You would be pardoned if you think that the new game in town is the smartphone and tablet ecosystem. Most people think that way.

For sometime it did look like that. But the real new ecosystem is not about the hardware and really about the hosted services … and clearly, Google is winning.

Remember, what happened when Apple replaced Google map with its own? Does it matter to Google if iPhone sells more that Galaxy as long as Google services runs on iPhone? How much more usable would Windows phone have been if all Google services ran smoothly on it? Have you met a person who knowingly chooses Bing over Google search?

And … the nature of the new ecosystem is different
Earlier ecosystems were built on familiarity, standardization, interoperability and supporting infrastructure.

  • Familiarity = Once you are used to a way of working why would you want to change?
  • Standardization = Why would IT want to complicate life by introducing variety?
  • Interoperability = Who would want do develop a product which cannot coexist with the most popular ecosystem?
  • Supporting Infrastructure = People, expertise, add-on products etc.

But, the core product would not improve on its own just because more people are using it. User needs and user feedback had to be programmed into the next version.

Herein lies the beauty of the next generation of services – be it Google Search, Google Map, YouTube, Facebook, Amazon or even Wikipedia.

They improve on their own through learning algorithms
Learning algorithm
= Algorithms that becomes more accurate on its own when more people use it

A good example of Learning Algorithm is Google Search. Have you noticed how accurately it can understand misspelled words – words not in the dictionary, proper names, abbreviations, Indian regional language words etc.? How you noticed how accurate the auto-suggest is? You would rarely have to type your complete search terms. It works so well even when you try to search something like an Indian regional language song.

Microsoft came up with UI innovations in Bing but Google could easily adopt what worked well. I have not yet met anybody who prefers to use Bing over Google.

IBM Watson won the Jeopardy! and had the ability to answer questions like a human. In May 2012 Google introduced “Knowledge Graph” and with that, you get direct answers to many questions in addition to the search results.

Even if some service replicates the algorithm, it would not be as good because the usage database would be missing. It would be a chicken and egg situation because people will not use it as it is not as good and the algorithm would not become better because people do not use it as much.

Same is the case with Google Maps. With more usage it becomes more accurate. Apple has already burnt its finger by trying to replace it.

Have you checked out Google’s indoor mapping initiative (where GPS signals are not available) – if not then have a look at this and this!


Who can challenge Google?

Facebook? … There are enough number of studies which indicate that buying influence of social media is very low.

Amazon? … Would you purchase without comparing price? Serious purchasing without price comparison is a no-no.

Apple? … Industry best kept secret is that new generation Android phones are already superior to iPhone – and Steve Jobs is not around to pull a rabbit out of his hat.

Microsoft? … Right now they are clueless and busy defending their own turf.

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More Stories By Udayan Banerjee

Udayan Banerjee is CTO at NIIT Technologies Ltd, an IT industry veteran with more than 30 years' experience. He blogs at http://setandbma.wordpress.com.
The blog focuses on emerging technologies like cloud computing, mobile computing, social media aka web 2.0 etc. It also contains stuff about agile methodology and trends in architecture. It is a world view seen through the lens of a software service provider based out of Bangalore and serving clients across the world. The focus is mostly on...

  • Keep the hype out and project a realistic picture
  • Uncover trends not very apparent
  • Draw conclusion from real life experience
  • Point out fallacy & discrepancy when I see them
  • Talk about trends which I find interesting

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