Monday, August 6, 2012

Does Mean the End of Google? Five reasons why it's possible.

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Can Microsoft's entry into enhanced mail take down a giant?
Call me crazy. Call me Ishmael. Call me Joshtradamus. Call me something else (but not to my face).

I have made many a bold prediction in my day and I have to say, many of them have come to fruition or are in the midst of unfolding as we speak. While I am not 100% accurate in my prognostication, I have a pretty good track record.

This next forecast is a ‘doozy’ but is not completely unthinkable.

I feel Microsoft’s recent release of signals the beginning of the end of Google as we know it. That’s right: I am saying the world’s number one brand will fall as a result of Microsoft’s push into the free cloud and email realm. It’s a realm where advertising dollars currently rule.

I have some very strong indicators as to why I think this will happen:

1. The Google cool factor and user base is not proprietary.
People have a choice. A lot of people moved to Gmail because it wasn’t AOL and it didn’t have that stigma of being a beginner’s email service. I even read an article years ago in a staffing magazine that stated anyone applying for a position using AOL as their main account was usually discounted immediately, primarily for not keeping up with technology trends. Google have done a lot to grow their user based and combating it will be a challenge. The integration of social media type features via Google+ may have come a bit too late, and might have been a bit less robust.

2. is intuitive and incorporates social media functionality.
Here’s where it gets really interesting. If you’ve ever held a job where you’ve used a PC on a daily basis, you probably have used Microsoft Outlook in one form or another. So you know how to use it already. Add to that the fact that this is definitely and undeniably NOT Hotmail (although your Hotmail account will not be affected by the new service if you want to keep it).

In fact, it is much more akin to a social media aggregation platform on the cloud with email functionality. It’s an interface where you can track pictures, emails, Twitter posts and Facebook posts all in one thread. (Microsoft tested this in its soft launch of Windows 8 and Windows Phone.) Just think of it; you get all your news and conversations on a topic with someone, or a group of people, all in one place. In the IT staffing industry, it opens up a unique way for recruiters to communicate with their candidates. No need to log into four or more different sites to see where you sent them that link a couple of days ago. It’s all in your account. That’s ‘Cool Factor+.’ 
3. Advertising is Google’s primary source of revenue.
Like I said before, is not Hotmail. In fact the advertising that Microsoft will be selling on the platform will be much like that found on Facebook; Off to the side and not in between email messages.

Wait a minute did I just say advertising? Yep! Google’s ‘bread and butter’ is threatened if takes off. Now, Google does generate some revenue from its hundreds of apps, but its lifeblood is advertising. Microsoft’s lifeblood is not. They have gaming, the number one operating system in the world with a new launch that brings all of this together, server, advertising, and more resources to make this whole thing happen.

4. has already taken off.
Only a day after its launch, had one-million users. That’s not to say it doesn’t have a long way to go. Then again, Gmail just only recently surpassed Hotmail’s 360 million users by about 15% and has been around since 2004. If all of the Hotmail users transfer over and the ‘wow factor’ of a new service, that integrates into your OS on your PC and your phone, AND aggregates all of your social media messaging, AND has all the functionality of Gmail, AND pays your bills and walks the dog at three in the morning (OK I get ahead of myself, that must be in rev 2.0); then Google could be in for a world of hurt. 
5. Google doles out email storage in increments, is unlimited.
OK, both services offer 7+ GB of space in the cloud and most of us will never come close to using all that space. Google ups the amount of space available in increments of one-one-millionth of a MB. Microsoft’s  SkyDrive cloud technology offers users unlimited email storage. There is a lot to be said for ‘unlimited.’

Microsoft’s biggest obstacle is that they have to overcome email users’ reluctance to switch from something they already know and use every day, and the fact that they'll have to inform all of their multitude of contacts, across various platforms, they are doing so.

In fact, as I stated earlier, Gmail has grown to over 400 million users. Hotmail still has over 350 million. Hotmail was deemed outdated by the ‘in crowd’ 8 years ago. Some people still have their AOL email as their primary account. Unless Microsoft can find a way that Google hasn’t yet mastered to lure people away from what they know, it could be a long road for them as well.

Then again, I also stated that virtually everyone that has ever touched a PC at work has used Microsoft Outlook. (And they’ve also used Office - PPT, Word, XLS, etc. which comes with the switchover to - free - along with the fact it will be considered secure by users. Also to be considered is the ease of integration.) Love it or hate it, people know this software, even among Mac users. Add the functionality and social media aggregation and I think they may have found themselves a winner.

I could be wrong, but my bet is on the company Bill built.