This post is about something which I (infact quite a lot of people) have been following for several months. It is about the battle for the internet supremacy between 3 giants Google (GOOG), Microsoft (MSFT), Yahoo! (YHOO). Yes, it's the battle for "supremacy" not the "dominance", as Robert Scoble, a Microsoft geek aptly points out - "Internet is too big a thing to be dominated by one company alone, so it’s a battle for supremacy". Each of the 3 companies is rolling out pretty similar services so that they don’t fall behind in the competition. This post is not going to decide which one is better, but just a small preview of what things each of them are offering and what lies in future. I will look at each of the three one by one.
I will start off with Google, the so-called "GOD" of internet, the one whom people believe almost blindly. Google has a lot of popular services, it’s a runaway leader in search, the company which has basically revolutionized the web search and has made the Microsoft's and Yahoo's to introspect and to provide a better search. Other than this web search several other popular Google services are: Gmail, Google Desktop Search, GTalk, Google Maps/Earth, Google Personalized Homepage, Blogger etc. Each of these products has been pretty revolutionary in the sense that they have made the life of an internet user pretty easy.
It's not more than a year or so ago, when none of the free email services were ready to give away more than 4-6 MB of mailbox space, Gmail came and gave away 1GB of free space and that the mailing experience has never been this good, now almost all the mail services are giving that much space which u can hardly ever fill!! Gmail stays at somewhere over 2GB, Y! at 1GB, Hotmail at 250/25 MB. Google Desktop Search has made searching files on your hard drive ever easier and made people dump the old crappy existing Windows search. GTalk is pretty much like Skype, but it’s certainly not a messenger for me. Google Maps/Earth has made finding paths and places easier. Google Personalized Page has provided a damn easy interface to combine *almost* everything you read on the internet onto one single page and finally there is blogger which me myself is using to dump all my thoughts including this.
Coming on to Microsoft, they have their own services competing head on with all these Google services. They have MSN Search, Hotmail, MSN Desktop Search, MSN Messenger, MSN Virtual Earth, Windows live/start.com, MSN Spaces etc. While Hotmail, MSN Search and MSN Messenger have been around for ages, MSN Desktop Search, MSN Virtual Earth and Windows live seems to be *INSPIRED* by the Google counterparts. The biggest advantage that MS has is their reach to masses with around 90% of the desktop with their OS: Windows 9X/ME/2000/XP/Vista (?) and around 80+% of browser market with IE. Plus they have the cash in the bag which enables them to quickly catch up with their competitors, by either acquiring some other company doing similar work or by developing it through their own developers.
Personally I liked MSN Desktop Search more than the GDS, mainly coz it had more features with outlook integration et al, plus it was far more customizable then GDS, but GDS 2 has come up with all those features + something called sidebar and negated that part. But I still use MSN Desktop Search, coz it provides tabbed-browsing to whatever little browsing I do in IE. MSN Virtual Earth seems to be lacking in the quantity of maps as compared to G Earth, but the resolution and clarity seems to be a more than G Earth. Windows live.com (still in beta) has similar features compared to Google Personalized Page, but their plus point can be adding Hotmail (already there) and MSN Messenger (to-be-added with Messenger Live). If all of these are combined then I guess this will be great for the user, as it will combine almost around 80+% of internet usage/surfing to one single page ranging from Mail, messenger, Dilbert, weather forecasts, blogs, news, Slashdot, to several other RSS/ATOM feeds. As for their old services, MSN search hardly stands in front of Google, but hotmail and MSN messenger are quite popular if not the most popular. The UI of both stands out as compared to others, but mailbox size is still something where hotmail lags behind as compared to its competitors, while MSN lags in the latest "call to computer" feature given by Gtalk and Y!.
Now on to Yahoo!, they have their corresponding services like Yahoo! search, Yahoo! Mail, Y! Desktop search, Y! Messenger, Y! Maps and My Yahoo! etc. Most of these Y! Services have been around for a while including My Yahoo! but except for Y! Mail, Messenger and Search, none of them are as popular as compared to their counterparts. But Yahoo's main business exists in their mail and messenger only. Personally I believe Yahoo! Mail is currently the best email service, while their messenger is pretty close to MSN in popularity (though I hate Y! with voice, as it takes at least around 5-6 times more RAM then others as well as its older versions even in idle state).
Few of the recent advancements i have read regarding this are:
1. Yahoo and MSN planning to combine their messenger service.
2. Both Google and Microsoft bidding to acquire internet giant AOL (with Yahoo! opting out of the bid just 2 days ago)
3. Yahoo! coming up with a revolutionary web-mail interface just like mail clients like MS Outlook.
4. Google offering *free* wireless internet in
5. Microsoft just realizing that one can get more money from ad-revenue (like Google does) than licensing!
6. All 3 giants merging with one or other company for book and video searches.
7. Google giving away $1 to publishers for every Firefox with Google Toolbar download, and also giving away money for every ad-click to users enabling Google-AdSense on their blogs.
First few points look pretty revolutionary, imagine if Yahoo! and MSN combine their messenger service not only this would provide the user ease of logging in to both the service through single client, but will also mean that they have THE largest share in the messenger market. And if Microsoft manages to successfully acquire AOL (which looks highly likely, considering the cash they have) then *almost all* of the messenger market will be in their hand, and GTalk will find it really hard then to battle Microsoft in this field then.
AOL acquisition is another major thing with around 10% of Goggle’s ad-revenue coming from AOL, if Google manages to get AOL, then they will get foothold as an ISP too, plus a lot of ad-revenue. As according to point 4, they are already trying to be an ISP for increased reach and ad-revenue. But if Microsoft manages to get AOL it will be a big setback for Google, not only they will lose out on ad-revenue and messenger users, but it will give a big user base to Microsoft to publicize their products, and might just help them combine with Time-Warner for the video search.
The new Yahoo! web-mail interface (which is in beta) looks really cool, I haven't used it yet but it looks real promising and might just make the web-mail experience as was never before.
All in all this looks a pretty exciting war between the 3 big wigs of the internet. And as a neutral we are in for some pretty good times as this competition is going to lead us to really improved and revolutionary services as never before. So i will simply sit back and enjoy the war for supremacy between the three and enjoy more and more features and new services.
Keep the competition alive!!