Google’s Competitive Advantage – How sustainable?
Apart from being one of the most valuable brands of the world, Google is best known for its efficient search engine and a vast empire that extends to every corner of the world and rests on innovative technology. It is one of the leading names in the world of technology that has grown at a very fast rate. The primary source of revenue for Google is online advertising. In this area it has got very few competitors and the only one with some clout is Facebook. However, apart from providing online services for individuals, developers and companies, the brand also makes and sells several other products like cell-phones. (Check a complete marketing mix here.) The primary basis of differentiation for Google is innovative technology. However, the brand has managed several critical strengths that are important sources of competitive advantage for it. To grow and retain a leadership position in the technology industry is possible only if the business has some sources of sustainable competitive advantage. This is an analysis of the strengths that have created sources of advantage for Google in the tech industry.
Google’s most critical strength is its innovative technology and also the enabler of its fast growth. The growth story of Google started from its search engine which was for helping users reach all the necessary information they needed with ease. This is also the reason behind Google’s popularity that it created a network which brought a very high level of convenience for users. Its search engine is known as the most efficient search engine whose algorithms are far ahead and much faster and efficient than its competitors. Apart from its search engine, Google is a provider of several other internet and cloud based services and owner of the biggest online advertising platform Adsense. Alphabet is the parent company of Google. It has patented a large range of technologies and is now aggressive about having more. Another important thing about Google is that it invests a lot in R&D for development of new technologies.
Some other key technological products which are known for their efficiency are Chrome browser, Android OS, Gmail, Analytics and Google docs. While many of its free tools are for use by individuals, several of them are for the developers and are free for limited use. Its Pixel cell-phone has several attractive features for Gen-Xers and professionals. In this way, Google has a quite large portfolio of technology products and services. Its technology is the main source of competitive advantage for the brand. Due to a very high level of differentiation, it has proved to be a source of sustainable competitive advantage.
HR innovation can also be a source of competitive advantage and that has been proved in the case of several brands. In the 21st century the role of skilled IT professionals has grown most important to the success of the technological companies. Google is known as one of the first innovators in the field of HR. Infact it led a change influencing several other brands in the technology industry which is otherwise known for complex tasks, roles and a highly complex and brutal HR environment. It came to be known as an employee focussed company offering its employees more space to use their creativity as well as better salaries and benefits.
An amazing culture has helped Google position itself as one of the best employers and proved great for its brand image. Google has continued to innovate in the area of HR through better HR policies and programs. However, the most notable thing is that the brand founded by Larry page and Sergey Brin has achieved so many milestones successfully with the help of those thousand Googlers and it is why it cares so much for its employees. A good culture, environment and proper management of your Human Capital helps you in both the short and the long term and can be a very critical source of competitive advantage. When you innovate in HR, you easily remove so many performance bottlenecks which leads to better performance and higher productivity.
Customer friendly brand image:
A customer friendly brand image works in every industry inspiring easy brand recall and leading to a higher level of popularity. Google’s image is that of a customer oriented company and like other customer oriented technology companies like Apple and Microsoft it has also grown faster because of its popularity. Its search engine is the most user friendly search engine of the world. Apart from that its browser, Mobile OS, and several other online products and services are also very friendly to use and come free of cost or free for limited use. These things have led to a deeper level of market penetration as well as higher reach and sales. The number of people using Google or some of its products must be in billions. This is an advantage which is sustainable in the longer term. User friendliness in this way can create a major source of competitive advantage for any brand.
Where there is internet, there is Google. It is not difficult to imagine that Google is present globally. Global accessibility is a major source of competitive advantage for a technology brand. If your users can reach you anywhere it does not just mean higher reach but higher sales too. This is also a reason that Google was accused of trying to monopolize the internet market. Whatever be Google’s intention but its universal presence becomes a source of clout and inspires fear in its competitors and even legal and political institutions in some cases. Accessibility is an advantage whose effect is difficult for rivals to counter and makes a brand’s position stronger against them. The primary competitors of Google’s search engine are Bing and Yahoo and they have a considerably smaller share in the market compared to Google.
Large product portfolio:
A large product portfolio can also be a major source of competitive advantage. As a technology company Google has a quite large product portfolio ranging from a search engines to several other online products and services as well as cellphones. Some of them are performing very well like its search engine and Adsense. You can check out the entire portfolio in its marketing mix. A large product portfolio caters to the needs of a large customer base and can provide sustainable advantage.
Financial strength can be a major source of competitive advantage for any brand in the 21st century. It allows you to spend more on marketing and research and development as well as release of new products. Google is continuously working on developing new technologies and technology products. It also spends much on marketing and promotion. Its 2017 revenue was 109.65 Billion dollars which was more than 20 billion dollars higher than previous year. Higher earnings also help with better management of infrastructure and human resources. It also creates a source of sustainable competitive advantage since the brand can easily release new products or diversify into new areas if it likes.
Google’s successful business model is based on several sources of competitive advantage. The major ones among them are its technology, human resources, brand image and financial clout. These provide it with a sustainable source of competitive advantage and formidable competitive strength in the technology industry. While its main source of revenue is online advertising and the brand had near monopoly in this area but for the challenging rise of Facebook in mobile ads. Still, its popularity and dominant position in the internet industry have given it a firm platform from which it can easily diversify into newer areas if it likes.