There's a Business Week article making the rounds saying that it's not Microsoft or Yahoo that's a real threat to Google, but the rise of the mobile web
, which will somehow shrink ad inventory and cause headaches for Google. It's a nice theory, but it's hard to square with reality. Increasing use of the mobile screen is hardly likely to decrease usage of a full computer screen. If anything, it will likely make desktop computing more useful in some cases. The article also makes a few other questionable statements. First, it points out that the mobile screen is smaller, so there's less ad inventory, and then it points out that the growing acceptance of the mobile web is due to the web browser on the iPhone. That sounds good, but the points contradict each other. The success of the iPhone's browser is due to the fact that it presents a full (not limited) web browsing experience -- so it doesn't really limit the inventory available to Google. Furthermore, even if the inventory was limited (which seems unlikely) that's not necessarily a bad thing for Google. Google's success has been based on making ads more relevant
-- not just more available. This was what resulted in so much confusion during Google's recent earnings announcement. Google had made some changes to drive more relevant clickthroughs -- and while that may lower actual clickthroughs, it increases revenue. So, even if inventory is limited, if Google is still the best at making ads relevant, it will do just fine.