CNN’s Fortune Tech section offers an interesting analysis of #Google and its current development cycle, relative to #Microsoft and its chief advantage / shortcoming, which is integration of products:
And yet, it seems that those at the Googleplex are increasingly giving in to the temptation to integrate new product development into a “synergistic,” if monstrous, whole. Integrating new products into existing ones, the story goes, should give a new product a boost with a built-in user base and in-product feature merchandising, not to mention enhanced “strategic” and “platform” value, which basically translates to customer lock-in.
I understand the temptation to make this comparison and have even thought the same things, from time to time. Android’s fusing of phone, Gmail and FaceBook contacts is incomplete at best and leads to duplication. Google Desktop Search was an invasive resource hog. Buzz, the article’s chief whipping-horse, was definitely a huge fail that still surprises me in its ability to avoid the ax.
There are, however, a number of differences between Microsoft’s integration scheme and Google’s. The first and most obvious is that, while Microsoft was trying to find a way to fuse Access databases and your music library, Google’s core competency has always been search. And search is a natural fit for all manner of activities online or on your computer.
Secondly, while Microsoft has been interested in your desktop experience on your PC, Google’s integration is about web services. Web services – from RSS to Twitter – are all based on a unifying principle in the first place: I publish my tweets and trending Bit.ly links to my website, other people have their latest Foursquare checkins on their sidebars. We share articles on WaPo with our friends on FaceBook and take suggestions on dinner choices from Foursquare. Thus fusing the +1 button and Google+ with other services like search isn’t just good business sense for Google: it is the edict of Web2.0 all over again.
Third, Microsoft’s penchant for integration comes directly at the expense of the security of their operating systems. From ActiveX vulnerabilities to Internet Explorer bugs exploited through Windows Media Player, integration has always been and we may presume shall always be Microsoft’s primary weakness. Google is not providing you an operating system, though it could be argued that the suite of Google tools online nearly replaces your operating system. Still, while there is a new growth in #Android malware, the chances that hackers will find the same wealth of security vulnerabilities that they do in Microsoft is unlikely.
Finally, while Google is certainly not without flaws, their core product remains not just good but outstanding. Microsoft, in the meanwhile, is dogged by any number of persistent, endemic problems to their core software that nearly define the company.