An interesting essay caught my eye today at HN about how google blew a 10 years lead , mostly in services. The essay described how most services that were the peak of innovation 10 years ago have subsequently stood stagnant and lost their technology edge to small companies.
Gmail is less innovative than HEY (and superhuman and many others). Google docs is not as good as Notion for knowledge sharing and collaboration. And the list goes on.
Initially, I thought it was because Google targets only big business customers, competing with Microsoft 365. Other product innovations do not scare them, they still offer a package with mail, video conferencing, docs, sheets, drive, etc. This is great for big business collaboration tools. Competitors like Notion and HEY are too small for Google business to care.
Docs, sheets, drive, mail are all products targeted at corporate collaboration. These are directly competing with Microsoft alone. What about Google Cloud? What about Android? What happened there?
Google consistently follows the market preventing its competitors from achieving market control. And in Google's case, "the market" is Amazon, Microsoft, Apple, and Facebook.
We'll start with Microsoft since they were the first. And beating them down took place ~10 years ago, that's why it seems like the tech from back then never progressed much. Because the hit had already struck.
Microsoft dominated the corporate world with its mail software Outlook, and with its Office suite, Word, Excel, etc. Google is native to the web and they leveraged their position to slowly hit Microsoft in this spot. Gmail first, then Google Drive, and then Chrome to kill IE as a final strike. And it was successful.
Amazon got big into the tech business through AWS. Google brought Google Cloud to the fight. The offering is no only cheaper, it also provides technologies that can't be explained any other way than as a way to hit AWS. Kubernetes as an open platform is against any business textbook rukes to lock in customers. But it will allow for an easy way out of AWS in the long run, preferably to GCP, but it can be any other cloud provider that provides Kubernetes service as well. It is strategically more of a hit to the front runner, Amazon, than a benefit to GCP.
Google's first priority is to hit the front runner, then everything else. This can also be seen with the Apple case. Android came after the iPhone. It has a much larger market share, and yet, generates far less revenue to Google than the iPhone is to Apple. That's because the main goal is to prevent Apple from winning the market. And in that, it is successful.
Google Buzz. Ouch. Google Plus. Double ouch. Google spent so much effort into hitting Facebook as hard as they can. They were not succeful here, but from the history of things it is obvious how Google try to hit Facebook. They did not try to create a new social platform, no. Otherwise they would come up with something that is not.. well, exactly like facebook.
Google home initially released at 2016. Amazon Alexa in 2014.
I have so many more examples that comes to mind as I write, but the point is already clear.
On a final note, I'll say, Google is not only trying to bend down competitors. Google Glass is one new product market they tried to create. The self-driving cars initiative is another example the comes to mind. They do innovate.
They just have so much money, blocking out other big tech companies is a strategy they are not willing to give up. And when this is the strategy, well, Google sheets already took a huge chunk from Microsoft, what more does it need?