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Microsoft Is The New Google, Google Is The Old Microsoft

A year is a long time in technology, but the past 12 months has seen one of the most surprising and exciting shake-ups in recent history: Microsoft and Google have swapped places.

In my opinion this is the current situation. In 2015 the Satya Nadella led Microsoft has become a progressive, open, web services company. By contrast Google grasps at ageing revenue pillars and neglects the present to concentrate on scattergun projects which overpromise and underdeliver.

How Google Is Becoming Microsoft

Google’s pillars of ads and search have become its Windows and Office. Both are being chipped away by more targeted advertising within social media and the compartmentalisation of an apps-based world. Your details and desires are on Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram more than in your Google search requests and we increasingly go to specific apps (eg weather) rather than web searching for it.

The knock-on effect: Adsense is declining and Google’s search market share is currently at its lowest point in seven years. Like Microsoft had done with Windows and Office, Google understandably still tightly holds onto the duo as its primary revenue pillars but the future implies only further slow decline with no obvious escape route.

Furthermore Google appears to be making another old Microsoft error: deprioritizing mobile.

Just as the evolution of Windows got sluggish once Microsoft had domination of the computer space, so Google looks to be resting on its laurels in mobile with Android. I’m a huge fan of Android 5.0 Lollipop but in hindsight was prioritising ‘Material Design’ (illustrated above) over combating performance, battery life and fragmentation issues really a wise move? After all Android’s native UI is the first thing most handset makers throw out the window.

Read more – iOS 8 vs Android 5.0 Lollipop Review: Material Difference

Similarly Google’s Nexus program continues to be woefully disorganised and wastes its potential while the promising ‘Google Play Editions’ program (and its mooted successor ‘Project Silver’) appear dead in the water. Even Google’s mobile apps feel somewhat unloved while the convergence of Android and Chrome OS continues at a snail’s pace.

So where is Google’s attention? Apparently moonshot projects. The company shouts excitedly about self driving cars, Internet delivering hot air balloons, revolutionary contact lenses, virtual reality cardboard headsets and glasses,modular smartphones and the painfully slow lottery-style roll out of its ‘Google Fibre’ gigabit broadband initiative.

How many of these improve its current market situation? None. Zip. Zilch. Zero.

Google Project Loon – Internet via hot air baloon – image credit Google

I’m all for ambition and changing the world (changing the world again in Google’s case) but while these projects rise and fall Google is letting the basics slip:
The once lean Chrome browser remains a memory-hogging mess
Chrome OS lacks direction (the Pixel hasn’t been updated in two years)
Chromecast is 18 months old without an update and muddied by Android TV
Android roll-out times are getting longer and less transparent
Android Wear’s release was rushed and subsequent evolution is slow
Google+ is a ghost town
Google Wallet completely dropped the ball

In fact while Google is so focused on the next big thing Apple is picking its pocket in the same way Steve Jobs loved to do to Microsoft. Bigger smartphones, mobile payments, biometric security, streaming music services and cross platform sync are all ideas Google did first, but Apple has been first to do properly. Could the Apple Watch be next to embarrass Android Wear?

What’s more it isn’t only Apple having fun at Google’s expense, it is Microsoft and – worse still – Microsoft’s success is coming from copying how Google used to operate…

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