eBay Experiment Demonstrates Frailty Of Google's Monopoly

from the switch dept

For the past several days, Larry Dignan has been seeing what it's like to live without Google. Each day, he's been trying different, lesser-known search engines to see how they stack up. As he points out, this is essentially what eBay decided to do when it announced that it would cease Adwords spending on Google in the US market, at least for the time being. While the move may have been linked to Google's planned "protest" at an eBay conference (it's now been canceled), it should still be an interesting and worthwhile experiment for eBay to see what life without Google is like. At the moment, analysts expect eBay to take some sort of business hit, although it's not clear how big it will prove to be. If it's too big, you can expect eBay to quietly scurry back to Google. That being said, both Dignan's and eBay's experiment demonstrate something important about Google's competitive standing. As powerful as it is, there's still very little lock in. If an individual or company wants to stop doing business with Google this very instant, they can. People stick with Google, not because it's hard to switch away, but because they don't see any better alternatives. Compare this to Microsoft during its heyday (or even now). It would be virtually impossible for a business that ran Windows to try going without Microsoft for a week or a quarter, just as a business experiment. This means that even when there are superior alternatives to Microsoft products, it's hard to get people to switch to them -- a fact that has underpinned many of the legal challenges against the company. These Google-free experiments should hearten anyone that fears the company's power or thinks we've just traded one monopoly for another. When a superior alternative does arise, it won't be hard for anyone to switch.
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  1. identicon
    Matt, 14 Jun 2007 @ 3:58pm

    Wow! You've discovered the free market economy!

    So you are saying that people use Google primarily because it's the best product available?

    That shouldn't be such a revelation. That's the foundation of a free market economy, and the basis of our economic system!

    You use Microsoft as an example claiming that they have a lock even where better products exist. This is partially flawed. While Microsoft certainly has an unfair (and very unique) advantage in the OS market, I contend that in the vast majority of product categories Microsoft makes (get the flame throwers ready) the easiest to learn, implement, and administer products (This comes from a guy with an apache/Debian web server and a half built MythTV box sitting in my office).

    While MS products might not be, overall, the most flexible, or open source. They are, for the most part, light years ahead of open source products in terms of usability.

    Ease of use is at the top of the list for most end users.

    I contend that if a company, like Google, that most people have a high amount of trust in, were to come out with an easy to use product that competed with MS, they would have a very real chance of competing in the market place. (see Picasa, Google Earth, Firefox(although google was late to get on the bandwagon))

    This is not a revelation, just capitalism and the free market at work.

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