Reading the Google Tea Leaves

Tristan Louis has provided an excellent summary of Google’s growing product suite and how it matches up to their main competitors (MSN, Yahoo, AOL), while wondering if Google is really all that innovative or whether they are just trying to keep up:

Every time Google comes out with a new product, many people talk about how great it is and highlight the product as a category killer. However, it increasingly appears to me that Google is filling up holes in their offering, in an attempt to match its competitors. Based on that assumption, I started wondering if Google had any product that was truly unique. To do so, I started a chart that mapped Google offerings against its competitors.

He’s done a good job breaking the various products into different fundamental categories: the search space (what is “searchable”), search services (mobile, personalized, history, etc), non-search services (auctions, blogs, calendars, etc), and developer services (ads, API, etc). His conclusion:

Google does innovate in some spaces but has largely innovated in order to gain entry in markets that already existed. As a rule of thumb, they’ve been very smart at breathing new innovations in those markets. However, their competitors are generally quick to notice and are catching up.

In terms of future offerings, I would not be surprised to see the following products coming from Google over the next few months:

  • An audio search engine, which will include a podcasting component (and possibly a podcast authoring component via blogger)
  • A strategic partnership with Wikipedia or some other encyclopedia
  • Some type of clustered search offering
  • A calendar product, which will probably inject new life in that space
  • An auction offering, tied with an internal payment system
  • A web hosting service that will scale from small entities to large ones and will include Gmail as part of the email offering
  • Some type of access service, probably using their WiFi solution

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