Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Google #1 in Search ... But that's it.

I have been reading a lot of articles recently about how Google is #1 in search, and constantly gaining more and more users for its search engine, however when it comes to its other services, Google is lagging behind the competition. Allow me to explain why I believe this has occured.
Google as a search engine is very fortunate to have tremendously positive word out mouth (viral) marketing. If you notice, you see a lot of commercials on TV for Ask.com (I miss Jeeves), talking about how you can feel more human by using their search engine, or you can also see commercials for Yahoo!, where it seems they have all of the answers in the world. But, at the end of the day, Yahoo!, Ask.com, MSN and others all have a long way to go to catch up with Google's main search portol, which does not have any TV advertising to help bring it into the mainstream.
The same goes with the toolbar searches. Between Google and Yahoo!, the two companies make up nearly 90% of all toolbar searches.
That brings us to other products. Google Talk has had very low success rates, having a hard time winning over users of Yahoo! Messenger, MSN Messenger, and the power house AIM. With that being said, Google purchased a minority share in AOL a few months ago, and has been working to make Google and AIM cross-platform compatible. Look to see Google Talk pick up some steam.
In the last few months, Google has also launched other products to compete with the big boys, also to mixed success. Google Finance is still way behind Yahoo! Finance. Google Calendar is still not as readily available to me as my MS Outlook calendar, and with the negative press given to the Google Deskbar, it is hard to imagine it receiving widespread adoption.
Google seems to be assuming that what happened with their search is going to happen with the rest of their products. The unfortunate thing is, that viral marketing is only as successful as it has been for search with a narrow scope of products and industries. It may take some creative marketing (that I will happily share with the company if their HR folks call me) to leapfrog the competition in these departments.

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