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Google's Achilles heel is search and ad revenue (80%). Which is sad because they've been trying to diversify and find another major source of income for 20 years now. If a better search engine comes along and people switch over, then google won't be able to maintain its empire and it could fold, or how would you like to pay $10 a month for a GMail and Google Maps combo access package? It could happen a lot easier and quicker than most people think.



I’m aware this has become a cliche on HN, but I’d be happy to pay that—if it helped align incentives better. Maybe if a company as big and ad supported as Google would make that step, it could become more accepted to pay for software again?


I think they're a lot stronger than you think. True, Search and Ads is still their bread and butter, but:

Their search engine is really hard to replace, not just because of the quality, but also because of how ubiquitous it is.

YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet and has the largest mindshare of any website on the internet.

Android is "the" platform pretty much everyone accesses the internet.

Cloud could do better (it's 3rd distant in the race against MSFT and AMZN), but nevertheless a huge opportunity.

Buffet and Munger were correct when they commented about Google saying they'd never seen a wider moat in their entire career.


> Their search engine is really hard to replace, not just because of the quality, but also because of how ubiquitous it is.

For the web, yes. I'd argue it's not threatened by other search engines, though it is threatened by other players and indexes:

- Apps. Google can't crawl apps, and people are getting used to the idea of finding information in separate indexes as opposed to a single universal one. Each app today has it's own search box, so if I'm looking for somewhere to eat I go to Yelp. A product? Amazon. If I'm looking for someone I open Facebook. If I'm looking for flights I open Kayak, Priceline or Expedia, etc).

> YouTube is the second largest search engine on the planet and has the largest mindshare of any website on the internet.

I agree that YouTube is very strong.

> Android is "the" platform pretty much everyone accesses the internet.

I disagree here. People largely access the internet (as in, data from the internet) through apps, like I mentioned before (Yelp, Facebook, Amazon, Kayak, Expedia...). [1]. Moreover, in terms of OSes, you still iOS and Windows are still holding steadily to a decent chunk of important markets.

> Cloud could do better (it's 3rd distant in the race against MSFT and AMZN), but nevertheless a huge opportunity.

I do agree here.

> Buffet and Munger were correct when they commented about Google saying they'd never seen a wider moat in their entire career.

+1 on some things, but not so much on others IMO. At this point most tech companies have comparable moats. Amazon, Facebook, Apple-- also huge moats.

And that's the thing-- competing against "just another search company" they're definitely in no threat, but they're competing against companies about as moated as they are. Amazon beat them to the punch with voice assistants. Apple Music is taking market share like Google Music couldn't. ChromeOS still can't seem to crack the dominance Microsoft Windows has on laptops. They're a lot stronger than most people think, but their competition is too.

[1]: Fun fact, people browse the web a lot while using Facebook. This is somewhat tangential to my main point so putting it down here, but Facebook is actually a major web browser: https://techcrunch.com/2018/08/06/facebook-is-now-a-major-mo...


I think you’re a more sophisticated user. Most people would just google something like best [type of food] restaurant in [city]. They’re not going to help specially for yelp stuff when it shows up on google anyways. If I want to find someone’s Facebook, I search for their name and Facebook on google.


Yelp is for sophisticated users?


Perhaps sophisticated was the wrong word, but a lot of people who will never use yelp use google daily. That is what I was trying to express.



I would agree with you on most points but their search engine is getting easier to replace as each change is made. The longtail is dead and someone new like amazon or sony or apple could change the game.


> Android is "the" platform pretty much everyone accesses the internet.

Not really. Windows still exists, as does iOS.


More people use mobile devices than desktops.


Anecdotally, there seems to be more stories of AWS->GCP than the other way around.


>>Their search engine is really hard to replace, not just because of the quality, but also because of how ubiquitous it is.

I'm not so sure about this. Bing is actually pretty good and in some aspects I find it superior. I like their video search better.


> If a better search engine comes along and people switch over

People are lazy. It's hard to deny that Bing and DDG are "better" in many ways, but how often does that matter? Most searches are simple and mindless - where any search provider will give you good results. Google has optimized for this use case.

> how would you like to pay $10 a month for a GMail and Google Maps combo access package?

Isn't $10/mo slightly above what Google Suite costs, per individual user? I would argue that it's already happening - if Google services are important enough to you that them denying you service would bring serious trouble, you need either Google Suite or to pay for a competitor - either way, providing them a meaningful incentive to keep you around. "Free" services are just not something you should ever rely on.

Same goes for other big service providers like Facebook, Twitter or Amazon's retail service, of course - if you can't even pay for meaningful support, you must have some sort of contingency plan and diversify the stuff you rely on. It didn't used to be like that, but Google and other big Internet properties have matured and lost a lot of their inherent "slack", even as our reliance on them may have increased - and that loss of slack could come back to bite you in the ass.


Google diversified its ads revenue, that is still something.

Yt, display, gmail, etc.


+mobile likely is huge (facebook has absolute majority of revenue from mobile ad). And now they push on shopping and maps.


does gmail actually make money?


i know the numbers, but can't tell.




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