Joe Wilcox writes:
Google and Microsoft are both platform companies. Microsoft’s core platform is the operating system, while Google’s platform is information and all the “stuff,” like search and contextual advertising, wrapped around the information The companies’ platforms share a couple of important similarities, perhaps the most significant being about enabling third parties to make money. Windows succeeded over Mac OS in 1990s because Microsoft provided a better platform for third parties to make money. Google does the same through mechanisms like search keywords and contextual advertising. Like Microsoft, Google provides APIs (application programming interfaces) that extend the utility of its platform to third parties.
Google’s platform approach is similar to Microsoft’s in that the company offers stuff for less, usually free, and reaps money through other means, such as contextual advertising. Google also looks for that good enough threshold, where a product’s features meet enough users’ needs to use it on the Web and wrapped in contextual advertising or search keywords. Potential competition with Microsoft there could be real, if Google could release competing products that provide, say, the 10 percent of features people use 90 percent of the time. But the intent isn’t necessarily to compete with Microsoft, as so many news sites or bloggers seem to believe.