Four ways Google has out-innovated first mover competitors

Is Google capable of closing their yawning market share gap with hyper scale cloud rival AWS? Urs Holze, SVP of Technical Infrastructure at Google, had a very interesting take on the matter during a Q&A Panel at GCP Next last week.

cloud gatewayAsked if Google was at a strategic disadvantage since they were not the first mover in the public cloud provider space, Urs hearkened back to several examples of where Google didn’t have first mover advantage and yet managed to seize market leadership by out-innovating their early to market competitors:

  1. Search. Those of us old enough to remember (there were quite a lot of millenials at GCP Next) may recall that Altavista boasted the most powerful search engine back in the mid 90’s. Now it’s little more than a footnote in the annals of internet history, given the ubiquitous dominance of Google search.
  2. Web browsers. Netscape ruled the roost until Bill Gates muscled Marc Andreessen out of the marketplace with Internet Explorer. Of course there are multiple web browsers available today but Google Chrome has carved out a respectable market share position (~25%) despite its late entry.
  3. Mobility. Next to Google search, the rise of Android is perhaps the most stark example of a “johnny-come-lately” eating other people’s collective lunches. Amazingly, Android went from approximately 4% market share in 2009 to 60% market share in 2012; it now sits at a “paltry” 50% in 2016.
  4. Maps. Ever seen one of those funky Google Map vehicles drive by? Larry Page’s fascination with transportation certainly didn’t hurt with vaulting Google into the top spot with respect to map location services. Still it doesn’t seem that long ago that MapQuest was the go-to source for this user service.

Google’s proven track record for out innovating their early mover tech competitors may not translate into wide scale enterprise IT adoption of GCP. Still, with recent wins at Apple and Spotify and a growing legion of enterprise clients like Coca-Cola and Land-o-Lakes, Google’s pivot to traditional enterprise data center business will likely make AWS keep a close eye on the rearview mirror.

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