Google has won both the online search and advertising markets.Rich goes on to argue that Yahoo and others should give up, accept their new Google overloads, and work with Google instead of against them.
Google is the start page for the Internet. The net isn't a directed graph. It's not a tree. It's a single point labeled G connected to 10 billion destination pages .... [And] it turns out that owning the starting point on the Internet is really, really valuable.
Search engines have zero user switching costs .... Zero switching costs lead to a winner-take-all market for the leader. Even a modest initial lead will snowball until majority market share is reached and maintained. This is because, faced with a choice between two products, in the absence of switching costs users will choose the better one, even if it is only slightly better.
Even if a competitor such as Yahoo, MSN or Ask were to fully close the [technology] gap at this point, they would still have to overcome the final brand perception gap ... Market research shows that users who see Google's logo on top of Yahoo's results perceive the results to be of higher quality.
Users will stick with the leader ... Forces reinforce a feedback loop of success for the leader ... Advertisers will be drawn to the leader ... strengthening its lead .... All Hail the New King Google.
As much as I like Rich's piece, I disagree with parts of it. First, there is a hidden assumption that all people have the same criteria for determining what is the best search engine. Despite the strength of the Google brand, I suspect it is more the case that different people have different preferences for user interfaces and different perceptions of the relevance of the search results. Preferences may even vary for the same person when doing different tasks. These are holes in Google's armor which, when pried open, could leave the giant vulnerable.
Second, I think it is actually Microsoft that owns the starting point to the internet, not Google. Microsoft owns the default operating system (WinXP), default browser (IE), default Office suite (MS Office), and often the default start page (MSN). While it is true that Microsoft has not yet been able (or willing) to use this to full effect, I would not as quick as Rich to say that PC software is irrelevant.
See also my previous posts (   ) on how Microsoft's control of the desktop could change the game in search.