The Wild Wild Tech

Network World posted a report today outlining the 10 toughest rivals Google will meet in the coming years. Being a part of the mobile industry has given me great exposure to the Smartphone battle that has been shaping up since the iPhone burst onto the scene back in 2007 (Google launched the Nexus One yesterday as it's latest foray into the tech world). Network World's article is a fascinating look into how unique and rapid Google's rise in the otts has led them to have a rather odd list of key rivals.

Find a quick rundown and some thoughts after the jump...

To me, one simple to breakout of Google's competitors into 4 key groups would be:

The Traditional Techs
  • Microsoft : Bing seems poised to be the first engine to pose a threat to Google since Yahoo! jumped the shark a few years back.
  • Apple: The battle between the Nexus One and the iPhone will be good, bot not nearly as juicy as the battle between the iPhone and Android OS, and the completely different paths Apple and Google have gone in handling their evolutions.
  • IBM: IBM is one of the few companies in the world that is (a) large enough (read: $$$) to challenge Google, and (b) is positioned well enough to enter the Cloud (or, as IBM calls it, The Grid).
The Traditional Telecoms
  • AT&T: This one gets crazy; AT&T and Apple have been partners for almost 3 years with the iPhone. However, AT&T just announced (today at CES) that they'll be launching exclusive Android devices in 2010. Toss on top of this the battle for net neutrality and these two "frenemies" will make for some good entertainment in the coming years.
  • Verizon: Google's US carrier partner on the Droid was Verizon; now the release of the Nexus One poses interesting questions for this partnership in the coming months - are they friends? enemies? frenemies? enemends?
  • Nokia: The third major Telecom company Network World listed simply cause it's still the largest mobile handset maker in the world.
The Fellow Dot-Comers
  •  Amazon: Amazon has their EC2 to be another major player in the cloud scene (which, is quickly becoming the 2010 tech buzzword
  • Yahoo!: I don't really have much to say about Yahoo! (is it necessary to use the exclamation mark?) - I've only ever used Google and Bing for search.
The Next Generation
  • Facebook: Little-known Orkut was developed and launched by a Google employee way back in 2004, and could pose a threat to Facebook if Google could ever get it to take off in the US as it has in Brazil.
  • Hulu: Youtube dominates the online video market with Hulu...erm...not really a close 2nd we'll say, but Youtube has really only grasped the short form market - what would happen if Hulu can convince more content providers to use Hulu as an outlet, while somehow combining traditional (TV) and new (online) business models?

The article got me very excited about what these juggernauts will do to each other in the coming decade (not just 2010). There's definitely a ton of room for the "common enemies has made us friends" argument.


  1. One of the crazier aspects of this piece is how similar the lists would look for many of these companies; Google really has created a number of frenemies over the past few years.

  2. Absolutely fantastic image you used for this

  3. Why thanks - I was expecting it to take much longer to find something that combined "wild west" with "technology", but this came up very quickly in my Bing search. I had completely forgotten about this movie prior to my search, but was very thankful for it afterwards.

  4. One of my theories on future technologies, which I mentioned in our discussion about The World is Flat, is that programming and computer technologies will furhter advance to be better able to understand human beings. Forms of this already exist...voice recognition software, digital cameras recognizing faces and fixing red-eye, scanning a hand-written page and converting it to text. (The World is Flat connection is that I think all low level intellectual jobs currently being shipped to India, etc. will be replaced by better programming in the next twenty years.) I think that twenty years from now, the iPhone or similar personal devices will completely replace laptops. The computing power will be strong enough, you can simply speak and eliminate the need to type and it will be able to project a touch screen on to any flat surface. The need for large capacity hard drives will be less important with Cloud technology, but mobile data provided by AT&T and Verizon will become more important. In the future, losing your phone will be more hazardous that losing your wallet.

  5. Scott - in fact the appearance of this lego image in your blog may be the best thing to come out of that movie. Which was terrible.

    Did anyone else imagine Aaron giving his "in the future" predictions in the voice/outfit of Conan's In the Year 2000 skits?

    Aaron I find your predictions to be very interesting, although I wonder if you predicting the CURRENT low level intellectual jobs moving on doesn't simply mean they won't be replaced by slightly higher-level jobs, that still can't be done by software? As in it continues to escalate?

    I completely agree that super functional tablets (like very good iPhones or whatever) will replace laptops for any on-the-go uses, but people who use laptops as de facto desktops that are simply kind of portable (i.e. from work to home) will probably still find them superior for a lot of functions, no? I'm thinking particularly for business uses.

    The emergence of cloud computing continues to be awesome, and can only get better. The mere existence of Google Documents is great, for instance, but it can gain about 4,000x more functionality and strength to really become a powerhouse of productivity software.

  6. I'm saying that in ten years the keyboard, mouse, and monitor are the only reasons people still use laptops, but in twenty years, those technologies will be replaced by a tablet portable electronic device that maintains the same usability. They already have optical virtual keyboards that you place above your hands and it can read where you type on a flat surface. Projecting a monitor doesn't seem too hard and I'm sure you've seen soccer games that can optically sense where your foot is. HP has already come out with a touch monitor that looks really good and is very intuitive (user-friendly) I think it won't be too long (you know, just a couple decades) before your desk is up against a blank wall and you simply touch the projected screen instead of using a mouse while typing on a projected keyboard on your desk. Then, at the end of the day, you simply turn it off and carry it in your pocket on your way home so that you can listen to podcasts or make phone calls during your commute. Then at home, you will use the tablet sized screen basically exactly the same way that I use my iPhone while sitting on the couch because my laptop is all of three feet away on the coffee table.

  7. So in other words you're predicting we get closer and closer to the touch-projection computers from Minority Report right? Which by the way have been showing up in other sci fi movies ever since, most recently in Avatar.

    I have neither an iPhone nor a laptop, so I find it hard to relate to this. When I want to go online, I trundle all the way upstairs to my desktop.

    It would be cool to have all of our current functionality with mouse/keyboard replaced by touch screens (whether on a monitor or projected) but obviously it would need to be better than mouse/keyboard (which everyone is used to) before it will be widely adopted. Do you think the interface is that good, or that it will soon be that good?

  8. I think that companies realize it won't sell until the user experience is the same or better. So they have a financial incentive to improve the technology in the next couple decades.

    Expanding on Scott's original premise, I think Apple, IBM, and AT&T are going to combine resources to improve 1) mobile data speed and access and 2) seemless Cloud technology for iPhones to provide larger storage capabilities, but from the user experience, feels like they have the movie or song on their iPhone already.

  9. And Royce...hilarious picture of your desktop...I love it.

  10. Thank you thank you

    So do you agree with Scott that the pricing of these services for the consumer will involve free Cloud access to all this information (like how Google and its corresponding features are free, like how Pandora is free music, etc.) but that the bandwidth to access all that information wirelessly is what we'll pay for? So the idea is your data package for your iPhone/tablet being the primary revenue for companies?

    By the way, what is the name for the laptop replacements you're talking about? Is tablet appropriate?

  11. Well I imagine something bigger than the current iPhone, but still very easy to carry. I think Bluetooth headsets will become just as popular as cell phones are now, so the act of holding the device to your ear won't be necessary. It is also possible (but I'm not as confident in predicting it) that the monitor will come in the glasses one inch in front of your eye, while will handily combine with the earpiece and microphone. (I also am not ready to try to predict how nanotechnology will be incorporated.) I basically imagine a single, hand-held electronic device taking over all electronic devices that incorporate sight or sound (the two senses that can be digitized...taste and smell are chemical...and I'm not exactly sure how to classify touch). The keyboard, mouse and microphone are simply convenient input devices which can be replaced by other devices designed to input and interact with the computer.

  12. What's your thought on the pricing? Do you agree with Scott's thinking which I summarized above?

  13. Consumers will tolerate paying for the devices and a monthly fee for access, but will not go from currently free Cloud technology to paying for it. But Apple already laid the groundwork with the first iPhone which Apple collected a portion of the monthly revenue AT&T charged. From my example, AT&T will share the monthly revenue with Apple and IBM. They will be ok with this, because they are both providing resources (Apple the device and IBM the Cloud technology) and will also be investing in improving AT&T's mobile technology (improving cell towers, download speeds, coverage, etc.)

  14. If I see one more "maps" ad I am going to punch a baby

  15. You know everyone reading this blog thinks you have a kid now, right?

    And how dare you link to the hated ads... how dare you

  16. Actually that's my nephew...but it's a really cute picture, isn't it?

  17. whoah, whoah, whoah - where did I say that the cloud would be free, and the business model would be to charge for data transmission?

    Cause, that's not what I expect. Currently, the free Google docs is small compared to what cloud tech will really bring (ability to process massive amounts of data/information on a remote server), which will cost money. Current cloud concepts already charge for access to server space/processing, and I don't see how this will ever be free.

    In fact, I see consumers being less tied to a carrier in the future (bye bye 2-year contracts!)

  18. PPS - the type of world Aaron is referring to is rapidly approaching:

    Verizon displayed a number of it's LTE-based devices at CES yesterday. Toss on top of this Sprint's work with WiMax, and you can see how quickly we're approaching Aaron's 2020 world. To further the advancements, check out the specs on a recent Apple patent - a thinner touchscreen device (e.g. tablet) to replace existing hardware (such as Royce's desktop).

    Essentially, this is pointing to a world (not to far in the future) that has all personal (and, possibly business) communication done via wireless, touchscreen devices.

    Imagine you're in SF watching a movie on your Apple tablet streamed to you via Verizon Wireless through IBM's cloud. Now, you want to show a portion of this clip to a friend in NYC. You pause the video, use a video editing tool to quickly crop out a (legal-length, of course) portion of this video, and re-post it back to your blog w/in the Cloud. Said friend jumps in and watches.

    The more we talk about this, the more geeked out I become...

  19. Scott, I tried to read your link for LTE and could hardly understand a word of it. I guess I'm not tech savvy enough.

    Still, fantastic links for my desktop and punching babies. I almost went with that punching babies link, but decided the PA one was more obscure and therefore more fun to introduce to people.

    I like the brave new world you imagine using these interconnecting technologies. Frankly if it makes everything easier to use and information / entertainment easier to access, then it will take off and be a huge hit.

  20. Royce, you know how the iPhone came out using EDGE technology, then the second version came out on 3G, providing faster mobile data, and the Verizon map shows 3G coverage, but AT&T hires Owen (Luke? Owen? Luke.) Wilson to play with a map never mentioning the phrase 3G, only their overall cell coverage and faster speeds...completely ignoring Verizon's attack, but doing so in a slick, high-priced marketing campaign which people normally hate, but don't seem to be calling AT&T out on....

    anyways, LTE = 4G

  21. 4G = 10 times faster than 3G