Monday, April 24, 2006

 

Google applicants

So last week I was contacted by a Google recruiter to apply for a really interesting sounding position -- of course, it was looking for 10 yrs experience, so I have no idea why I was contacted in the first place, and not surprised that they did not want to continue the interview for that position -- anyway, the interesting part of the story is that they sent me a questionairre to fill out as an applicant, and it included the following 2 questions:

#8 " Who are Google's top 3-5 competitors threats and why? "
#9 " What 3-5 things (trends, technologies, etc) that pose the largest
threats to Google's business and why? "


First off, a very interesting strategy to accumulate lots of thoughts about threats... but also a unique type of question to qualify ppl on. I'm not real happy with my responses because I didn't feel like putting much thought into it, but here are my answers if anyone is curious:

8) Who are Google's top 3-5 competitors threats and why?

Outside of direct competitors like Yahoo, there are some unique threats that Google should be wary of: MySpace, the government, and Verizon. Google’s business, while innovative in many areas with products in all types of markets, is sustained based on advertising revenue. Advertising is about having the most valuable real estate, which means the place where the most people are looking. Currently, MySpace has more hits than Google. Should MySpace decide to monetize differently, or expand into other spaces, there are potential issues for Google. Currently, MySpace is becoming the place to search for more personal information, and is rapidly becoming the aggregator of such information, including blogs, videos, pictures, etc. The more searching and aggregating that MySpace does, the more competitive it becomes to Google.
The government, or perhaps just general litigation, is a threat to Google in different ways. Foreign governments, like the China issue, represent competitive roadblocks to Google’s expansion. Our government represents the potential for reputation ruining litigation. For example, a major press release on privacy violations if Google is forced to turn over someone’s data (gmail, search patterns, gdrive contents) to the government could ruin a lot of the value added services that Google provides. Privacy is a founding component that many customers are not ready to do without. Furthermore, a high profile investigation by the government into click fraud or other online ad scandals could scare companies aware from online ads, dampening the market.
Finally, Verizon is a competitive threat as it is positioned well in the convergence of wired and wireless access to provide ubiquitous connectivity. With such connectivity, Verizon might be able to dictate the channels users access for content. For instance, a partnering with JumpTap could mean that all Verizon mobile users start with JumpTap's search page instead of Google. Taken to the next level, perhaps all initial contact points for Verizon customers when they are connected is an alternative search page. Another option is if Verizon shifts revenue models, and gives away internet connectivity and they themselves charge for ads just as Google is doing. However, since Verizon already owns so many customers and their mobile or wired access, they start with a competitive stance.

8) Who are Google's top 3-5 competitors threats and why?

Outside of direct competitors like Yahoo, there are some unique threats that Google should be wary of: MySpace, the government, and Verizon. Google’s business, while innovative in many areas with products in all types of markets, is sustained based on advertising revenue. Advertising is about having the most valuable real estate, which means the place where the most people are looking. Currently, MySpace has more hits than Google. Should MySpace decide to monetize differently, or expand into other spaces, there are potential issues for Google. Currently, MySpace is becoming the place to search for more personal information, and is rapidly becoming the aggregator of such information, including blogs, videos, pictures, etc. The more searching and aggregating that MySpace does, the more competitive it becomes to Google.
The government, or perhaps just general litigation, is a threat to Google in different ways. Foreign governments, like the China issue, represent competitive roadblocks to Google’s expansion. Our government represents the potential for reputation ruining litigation. For example, a major press release on privacy violations if Google is forced to turn over someone’s data (gmail, search patterns, gdrive contents) to the government could ruin a lot of the value added services that Google provides. Privacy is a founding component that many customers are not ready to do without. Furthermore, a high profile investigation by the government into click fraud or other online ad scandals could scare companies aware from online ads, dampening the market.
Finally, Verizon is a competitive threat as it is positioned well in the convergence of wired and wireless access to provide ubiquitous connectivity. With such connectivity, Verizon might be able to dictate the channels users access for content. For instance, a partnering with JumpTap could mean that all Verizon mobile users start with JumpTap’s search page instead of Google. Taken to the next level, perhaps all initial contact points for Verizon customers when they are connected is an alternative search page. Another option is if Verizon shifts revenue models, and gives away internet connectivity and they themselves charge for ads just as Google is doing. However, since Verizon already owns so many customers and their mobile or wired access, they start with a competitive stance.

Okay, now I should probably get back to the homework for this class!

Comments:
It is a good question to focus on the likely competitor set by looking 'out of the box.' Look at my post earlier on eBay striving to be simultaneously close to Google while trying to offset of their dependency by working with Microsoft and Yahoo. Today, we can see the core band of competitors: Yahoo, eBay, Amazon, Microsoft and Google. To this core band, one can include AOL and Apple. Mapping the competitive space is a critical way to understand the interconnected network era.
 
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