It's not completely out of the ordinary these days to hear of Google having some issues in a venture, blowing it entirely or even doing fairly well, only to get completely blown out of the water by aggressive and innovative competition. That seems to be exactly what's happening in a few different spaces of tech that may be on the brink of revolution, with those poised to ride the wave the highest being likely to dictate where the tech goes in the near future, as well as score themselves more than a few eager fans, followers and investors.
Specifically, I'm talking about Facebook. Although they have had their share of troubles, with their Project Loon competitor getting the boot from India over net neutrality concerns, for example, their domination in messaging as a platform and their impending takeover of the infant live video sphere is anything but secret. In these new web medias, Google should, by all means, have had a leg up on them. Messaging, for example, has been a Google service since 2005, with the advent of Google Talk. After being folded into Gmail and then succeeded by Hangouts, the tale of Google Talk has made it quite clear that Google is still trying to find themselves in the messaging space. Facebook, meanwhile, has taken the entire world by storm, become the top messaging app in some regions of the globe and have already begun to converge their Messenger platform into something that rivals a full-fledged OS. To boot, they seem to be embracing the smart chat bot revolution, while Google has yet to show anything of the sort. While Google I/O 2016 may be around the corner, it's quite disheartening to those cheering Alphabet on that there's no official word on anything coming and, if something does come, it's going to be fairly late in the game, thanks to platforms like Facebook Messenger, Snapchat and WeChat pushing the space along at breakneck speed.
In the field of live video, Google should have had the space neatly boxed away long ago. For good measure, let's go ahead and throw gaming in there. Google has had YouTube since 2006 and only recently launched YouTube Gaming in reaction to the massive popularity of Twitch, as opposed to Let's Play videos or speedruns cropping up on YouTube. Live video, meanwhile, has been almost completely ignored on YouTube, treated as a cursory function, until, again, just recently, and only in reaction to stiff competition. To boot, the reaction came in the form of an entirely new app, furthering Google's issue of having a massively divided and multi-part ecosystem. This sort of "resting on their laurels" is exactly what has already doomed Google to play second fiddle in live video, unless something absolutely revolutionary is revealed at Google I/O.
Who will they be playing second fiddle to? Again, Facebook. Although it's still technically anybody's race, Facebook has been focusing hard on live video and making tangible pushes that users, content creators and advertisers have all already felt the effects of in big ways. While YouTube Creator Studio on Android is still sitting on the small improvements to live video that were made a few months back and YouTube Connect is in its infancy, Facebook is aggressively pushing and updating Facebook Live. While there are definitely competitors worth mentioning in this space, such as Snapchat and Periscope, the bulk of the war for supremacy is going to come down to the sheer girth of Google versus the adaptability and aggressive upgrading of Facebook. These are two utterly and profoundly different tactics and, at this stage, it's looking like the underdog is going to pull out the win in live video, leaving Google in the dust and perhaps even seeing them trampled by competitors who ape Facebook's philosophy and attract users with accessible and compelling new features, rather than offering a basic feature set for content creators looking for a huge audience.
Truly, in these two categories, to the victor go the spoils. Live video is rife with opportunities for advertising, in tons of different formats, as well as other monetization methods like paid content. A win in the live video space would also give Facebook the clout in video that it would need to start prying business away from YouTube and its glut of professional online entertainers and marketers, which could spell serious trouble for Google in the long run, given their more realistic approach with moonshots of late and the implications it may have for other projects that pull small profits or fail to profit. It should also be mentioned that the chance for Google to convert YouTube into a social platform with any measure of success and user adoption has likely come and gone, leaving that sort of advantage purely in Facebook's court, barring international competition.
In the messaging platform space, Hangouts has already been shown up in many huge ways by Messenger. With Hangouts being Google's flagship instant messaging product, it stands to reason that this defeat means that they have no pull in the space and, for the most part, the only people on Hangouts are going to be people like YouTubers and Android diehards that are already deeply entrenched in Google's ecosystem. Features that Facebook is integrating into Messenger on its path to convergence, Google is spreading out to try and make a more holistic and integrated ecosystem. Sure, you may be able to grab an Uber through Google Now by using it to access the Uber app via integration, or Google Maps, but Facebook's Messenger platform already has that down, basically refined to a single step. The war for convergence has come down to building an ecosystem from apps or building a single app into an ecosystem, and it's looking more and more each day like single-app convergence is going to win.