There are few companies as well equipped as Google to tell you just how lonely it really is at the top. Even the groups who start out as partners to Google eventually turn to enemies when Google accidentally expands into a competing market. Maybe that’s just what you get for having 70 percent of search share. But there are other hurdles beyond Google’s immense size. In a recent interview, Google Executive Chairman (and, until April of this year, Google CEO) Eric Schmidt talked about some of the partnerships that Google has lost, missed, or is still fighting for.
The first item on the bill is Apple, currently a major competitor of Google but formerly a definite ally. “It started off very much a partnership,” said Schmidt. “Now with the success of Android, it’s more rough.” Android is Google’s smartphone and tablet operating system. In mobile, Android is now the dominant player – beating Apple’s iOS – while Apple still runs the tablet market.
But while Apple helped in some advisory roles and the two companies originally took on a “scratch each other’s back” policy, there’s another ally that Google never had that it could have used much more: Facebook. Google missed on opportunity to buy Facebook some years back and have failed to establish a partnership with the company. According to Schmidt, Microsoft garnering a partnership while Google stays on the sidelines is “because Microsoft was willing to give them terms that we were unwilling to give them.” Things aren’t hopeless, however. “But perhaps in the future,” concludes Schmidt.
A final territory that Google struggles with is establishing partnerships in the media industry (including for video and music content). Schmidt’s take is that these partnerships are vital, but Google’s unique model of cloud-based subscription access requires a substantial perspective shift that not all media groups are ready for.