While enrolled as graduate students at Stanford University, Larry Page and Sergey Brin
founded one of today’s most influential and innovative companies, Google, Inc. Starting
from their dorm room in 1998, to now world headquarters at the Googleplex in Mountain
View, California, the company has stayed true to its mission: “to organize the world’s
information and make it universally accessible and useful” (Quick 1).
In 2001 Dr. Eric Schmidt was hired as Google’s CEO. He served as CEO of Novell and
CTO at Sun Microsystems prior to joining the company. Larry and Sergey agreed Eric’s
educational background, a Ph. D. in computer science, and business experience would
benefit the company. Since Eric’s arrival, Google has been run as a triumvirate, with all
three men collaboratively making decisions (Scmidt 29).
Google is now a public and profitable company. Its focus remains on search services but
continued innovations, acquisitions, and partnerships have broadened the company’s
Google has become a serious threat to Microsoft Corporation’s thirty-year dominance of
the computer technology industry. “Each new day for Google seems to bring a clever
new feature, a promising new business opportunity, and a potent new threat to any
company that stands in its way” (Lashinsky 223). Microsoft and other leading
companies are now forced to be more innovative in an attempt to keep pace with
Google’s recent surge.
The purpose of this report is to investigate the recent innovations, partnerships and
acquisitions by Google, Inc. The focus will be on their technological advancements and
new products released. This report will also examine the effects of Google’s success on
Microsoft Corporation, and the counter-actions being taken by Microsoft.
In this report the ever-changing computer technology industry is explored through the
innovations and breakthrough technologies produced by Google. Specifically limited to
the effects on their competitors and the general public.
Technological Breakthroughs and Continued Innovation
Google grew into a competitive force in the technology industry years before going
public. After opening the Googleplex in 1999, the unique company evolved rapidly.
Larry and Sergey created a working atmosphere that encouraged employees to openly
share ideas for new products and technologies. At Google, ideas are exchanged through
an “ideas mailing list”, which distributes mass e-mails across the company with every
new post. A variety of products, including Gmail, have resulted from this form of
brainstorming (Hardy 198).
A constant goal of Google has been to develop convenient ways to access the world’s
information. They have established themselves as the #1 search engine worldwide and
are used by over 380 million people per month (Quick 2). Their dominance is due in
large part to the accessibility of their databases.
The Google Toolbar, introduced in late 2000, is an innovative plug-in made for web
browsers. It allows users to make a search without visiting the Google homepage. The
program can be accessed by a search box on the web browser toolbar or by right-clicking
highlighted text within a web page (Google Milestones 5). Allowing users to perform
queries without visiting their website has provided Google with an enormous advantage
over the other leading search engines.
Partnerships with leading wireless communication companies lead to the introduction of
Google SMS in October of 2004. The technology enables people who are away from
their computers to make instant queries through the use of a cell phone and other
handheld devices (Google Milestones 9). This was one of the first advancements made
since going public in April 2004.
Google’s domination of search services has continued to grow since the creation of the
company. Acquisitions of database management software and partnerships with brands,
such as Yahoo!, have played a key role in their expansion. These actions will be
discussed in greater detail later in this report.
After establishing the top search engine on the web, Google began to earn profits through
advertising. Their first advancement came with the introduction of AdWords, a self-
service ad program that enables advertisers to target specific audiences through the use of
keywords. When a web user searches for a particular product, advertisements are then
listed based on their relevance to the users search. Google uses the “cost-per-click”
pricing model, which charges advertisers only when their ad is clicked. This model
makes search based advertising cost-effective for both small and large businesses
(Google Milestones 7). Other leading search engines, including Yahoo! and Microsoft’s
MSN, have since introduced similar technologies.
Figure 1 - Adwords
In 2003, Google developed the AdSense program. AdSense offers website publishers a
way to generate revenue through the placement of highly targeted ads. The program
automatically delivers the most useful text and image ads to the publisher’s page.
(Google Milestones 8) This innovation provides websites with a convenient way to earn
more revenue with no extra costs.
Figure 2 - AdSense
Finding an effective way to place relevant information before the eyes of the consumer
has proven to be the most successful form of advertisement to date. Advancements in
advertising established the foundation for making Google a highly profitable company.
Using their ability to organize information, they were able to maximize profits for other
companies and web sites. With the majority of the company’s revenue coming from
advertising sales (Schmidt 6), Google has been able to offer users other services for little
or no charge.
Google has also begun to leave its mark on the databases of small and large companies
across the world. Helping to organize and make information easily accessible and useful
is a continuing goal of Google. Using their information organizing technology, they
created programs enabling businesses to better manage and retrieve their own
In 2005 small businesses were presented with the Google Mini (Krol 26). The product is
a hardware and software combination that allows small businesses to search their
documents and websites in the same fashion as Google’s web search (Google Milestones
10). The Google Mini offers the business world a product that can specifically help
individual businesses, and their employees, store and retrieve company information with
The technologies, programs, and innovations mentioned in this section have played an
important role in the growth of Google, Inc. The constant flow of information, and
unique ways of idea generation, help maintain continued success for the company.
Providing easy access to search engines, capitalizing on relevant advertising, and aiding
small businesses in information organization are key breakthroughs in establishing
Google as a serious threat to competitors, specifically Microsoft.
Expansion and Further Development
Google’s rapid growth is a result of many partnerships and acquisitions. With more
money to spend, Google is quickly buying out smaller companies and implementing their
cutting edge technologies. In addition, partnerships have expanded their customer base
and allow Google to access even more of the world’s information.
Wireless communication companies and leading international search portals have been
Google’s most beneficial partnerships. Agreements with Sprint PCS, Cingular, and
AT&T enable thousands of wireless Internet users to benefit from the aforementioned
Google SMS technology. Partnerships with China’s NetEase and Japan’s NEC
BIGLOBE portals have expanded Google’s market to an international level, offering
search capabilities to a global audience (Google Milestones 9).
Keyhole Corporation, a digital and satellite image mapping company, was acquired by
Google in 2000. Keyhole’s technology has since spawned Google Earth, a program
allowing users to view 3D images across earth and access an extensive database of roads,
businesses, and other points of interest (Google Milestones 9).
Google also bought out a local digital photo management company called Picasa, Inc.
Their technology has been used in creating a program to help users organize, manage,
and share their digital photos (Google Milestones 9).
These acquisitions have broadened Google’s corporate horizons. Obtaining and
implementing the technologies created by Keyhole Corporation and Picasa, Inc. has
expanded their market, increased their threat to Microsoft, and helped to continue their
path towards dominance over the Web.
The Effects on Microsoft and Their Counter Actions
Microsoft was founded in 1975, and has since developed into the most influential and
dominant force in the computer technology industry. Over the past 30 years Microsoft
has expanded to over 60,000 offices and employees in more than 60 countries (Microsoft
Homepage). Their dominance is a result of the Windows operating system, which is
installed on all PC’s. Windows has provided Microsoft with control of what products
and services users see first. With the desktop being the focus of users in the past, this
control has been their avenue to success (Vogelstein).
Microsoft is still the industry giant. Fortune Magazine reports that Microsoft is worth
nearly $40 billion in revenues, ten times the size of Google. They have $34 billion in
cash, and are generating $1 billion in new cash a month. With the help of products--such
as Windows, Office and product servers--Microsoft is continuing to show 15 percent
growth each year, with operating margins above 30 percent (Vogelstein). Since 2003
however, Bill Gates and other Microsoft executives have considered Google a serious
threat to their dominance over PC users.
Google’s Threat to Microsoft
By establishing itself as more than just a successful search engine, Google has become an
increased threat to Microsoft. Their Desktop Search software, used to search users
desktops and the Internet, challenges Microsoft’s ability to control what products and
services PC users are exposed to first (Google Milestones 9, Vogelstein). Since this has
been the key to Microsoft’s success in the past, it may prove to be the Achilles’ heel in
taking down the software giant.
Another key advantage for Google is the revenue earned through advertising sales. This
enables them to offer search, e-mail (Gmail), photo management (Piscasa, Inc.) and other
tools free of charge. Through Google’s free Blogger software, users can now produce
and print documents without the use of Microsoft Office (Vogelstein). These
developments, coupled with the hiring of talented software engineers, is expected to
spark the development of a cheap and effective Google Office software package,
overtaking Microsoft Office as the market’s standard.
One of the greatest threats to Microsoft is that Google has become the “it” place of
employment for innovative software engineers. Google is not only hiring the best
engineers entering the workforce, they have also started to lure away many Microsoft
employees. Google’s most notable acquisition came in 2005 with the hiring of Dr. Kai
Fu-Lee, one of Microsoft’s former Vice Presidents. In addition, Google employs Marc
Lucovsky, a chief architect of Windows, and roughly 100 other past Microsoft employees
Since going public Google expanded more than anyone at Microsoft ever imagined.
Partnerships and acquisitions have rooted their technology in countries worldwide.
Consequently, their stock price has risen consistently since it’s initial offering and is now
valued at more than $400 per share. Microsoft’s stock has remained steady in the past
year, as shown in comparison with Google in the charts below:
Figure 3 – GOOG Stock Price for 2005 Figure 4 – MSFT Stock Price for 2005
Source (Figure 3 & 4): <www.nytimes.com>
Google is prepared to take the reigns held tightly by Microsoft for almost three decades.
Advertising revenue, Internet and desktop search technology, free office tools, new
partnerships and acquisitions, and recently going public have all contributed to Google’s
ever growing threat to the dominance of Microsoft Corporation.
Microsoft still believes they have the tools to lead the computer and Internet industry.
However, the impending threat from Google has created a sense of urgency like never
before. Bill Gates and other top executives are pushing for the emergence of more
innovative ideas to help them stay competitive. In a recent memo Microsoft’s chief
technology officer Ray Ozzie expressed the company’s concern pushed for new
developments. He stated, “It’s clear that if we fail to do so, our business as we know it is
at risk. We must respond quickly and decisively” (Guth).
Microsoft has already created an answer to Google’s AdWord technology. Their most
recent competitive venture is code-named Project Underdog. Microsoft is spending more
than $100 million on an 18-month project to build a search engine to compete with
Google. Software architects are attempting to create a style of searching more advanced
than any other product on the market. The process has been unsuccessful thus far, taking
longer, and costing more money than originally expected. (Vogelstein)
Recent news has shown Microsoft and Google both showing a strong interest in taking
stake in the AOL business. Internet executives believe that Microsoft will outbid
competitors in an attempt to gain some control of the Web market. This will be an
important move for Microsoft as the computer world shifts from the desktop to the Web
(The Stakes). If Microsoft wishes to stay competitive, greater access to Web users, an
audience dominated by Google.
In the past Microsoft has been a fast follower. They are rarely the first to introduce a
product to market, but have always quickly provided a more accessible and practical
solution. This tactic has helped in outlasting competitors such as Netscape, Lotus, Star
Office and others. (Vogelstein) Microsoft is attempting, and believe they can, do the
same in their race with Google.
Microsoft’s dominance of the computer industry has not been challenged in thirty years.
With users focus’ shifting from the desktop to the Web, Google has established itself as a
legitimate threat. Key advantages for Google lie in their innovative web and computer
search technology, and their ability to offer competitive products for less. The
completion of Project Underdog and a controlling stake in AOL will greatly benefit
Microsoft in their attempt to counter Google’s rise to the top of the industry.
By founding Google, Inc., Larry Page and Sergey Brin turned themselves into corporate
icons. Incredible technological advancements have been made during their mission “to
organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.”
Innovations like AdWord, AdSense, the Google Toolbar, and Google Desktop search
have catapulted Google, Inc. to worldwide success and drastically changed the shape of
the computer technology industry.
Microsoft is now faced with their toughest competition in thirty years of existence. New
ideas and projects, such as Project Underdog, are being examined as Bill Gates and other
top executives are taking action to lead Microsoft in countering Google’s surge.
It is still unknown what the outcome of the race will be, but all computer users should
find excitement in what this newfound competition could bring. The battle for control
rages on with both sides pushing for more innovative ways to improve the technological
aspect of our lives. I believe, with close competition, we will see the emergence of
fantastic new technologies from both Google and Microsoft in the years to come.
“Company Information.” Microsoft Homepage 1 December 2005
“Google Milestones.” Google Homepage. 27 November 2005
Guth, Robert A. “Microsoft Revamp For Online Push Gains Urgency.” Wall Street
Journal 9 Nov. 2005: A3.
Hardy, Quinten. “Google Thinks Small.” Forbes 14 Nov. 2005: 198.
Krol, Carol. “Google.” B to B Magazine. 24 Oct. 2005: 26.
Lashinsky, Adam. “Google Vs. The World.” Fortune 14 Nov. 2005: 223.
“Quick Profile.” Google Homepage. 27 November 2005
Schmidt, Eric. “Amendment No. 9 to Form S-1 Registration Statement: Google Inc.”.
Securities and Exchange Commission. 27 Nov. 2005 <http.sec.gov/Archives/
“The Stakes in the Fight for AOL.” Business Week Online 7 Nov. 2005 <http://www
Vogelstein, Fred. “Gates Vs. Google.” Fortune 18 Apr. 2005.