Source: Google Blog

Why Google’s vision could be its biggest challenge

Google is well known for having misunderstood, underestimated, missed, … (whatever you want to call it) social media. Google+ was never really a threat to platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

But Google itself also missed mobile. Of course, Google „owns“ Android (which is undoubtedly massively popular), but it ends there.

Google’s AI vision in a social mobile context

For two years now Google has been heavily focused on AI, working on products like Home or AlphaGo or using AI to decrease its cooling costs in data centers. In 2017 they introduced Google Lens, a product which specifically caught my attention.

First off it is an amazing take on AI and AR itself already. The Wi-Fi use case still impresses me.

But Google is set to take on social and mobile…once again. Well known, search is Google’s biggest product and source of revenue. But in a mobile-native world it is becoming increasingly difficult to keep revenue steady – let alone achieve growth – if you’re not a mobile-native company with a heavy focus on social media.

Text vs. Visual Search

Google has pretty much always been and is still the most popular search engine. Since the rise of PCs text has been the single most important input. Google understood customer behavior early, took use of it and became the internet’s gateway — a perfect(ly obsolete) business model. Still people are used to typing search queries, with a slow adoption of voice.

However, with the rise of AI, computers are becoming better and better at reading and understanding pictures, which will be one of the biggest technology disruptions in history. And social media are on the verge of becoming the main source for visual search (think Pinterest, Facebook, Instagram), not Google.

Facebook: the new search engine?

Facebook and its ecosystem is becoming increasingly important for search with approx. 2bn daily searches, Google is still on top with approx. 5.5bn. But if you look at today’s internet usage Facebook is already more popular than Google and its usage is still predicted to rise.

People are already spending more time than ever within Facebook’s ecosystem. If people are taking searches to Facebook and continue to do so Google will have a big problem in the future with text-based search already.

But since F8 2017, Facebook’s developer conference, it’s clear that Facebook is also working towards a visual-based future (with an already impressive work in computer vision!) with a heavy focus on AI and AR.

It will be very interesting to see how Google can keep up with Facebook and other social mobile platforms and how this trend will eventually generate significant revenue, e.g. via “paid” info cards etc.

It will also be interesting to see how both companies tackle customer experience for visual-based search, since this will be the defining factor on who will win the next generation (Google won the browser, Facebook won mobile).

Do you have anything to add? Let me know in the comments below!