I’m a Google user (who isn’t now a days?) and I rely on a lot of Google products, but I’m also loosing faith in Google because they keep putting out half baked products then when not enough users use them they kill the products. I moved away from Microsoft two years ago due to privacy concerns and the unethical rolled out of Windows 10, and it was easier because I was already heavily invested in the Google ecosystem.
This is where my problem comes in, because I’m so heavily invested in the Google ecosystem I’m kind of stuck, there really isn’t any other platform with equivalent services to Google for me to move to. Sure I could build a server and run something like OwnCloud on it and have most of the things I need, but that requires me to spend a decent amount of money, and possess computing knowledge I don’t have (though I’m sure I could learn).
Now if I want a managed suite of products like the Google services I currently use one thing I’m going to to look for is staying power, I’m sure there are a bunch of companies trying to offer all the services I want, but will they be around in five years? I’m guessing the answer is no. So whether I like it or not it looks like I’m going to have to bow down to our corporate overlords for these services.
So while I’ve been on the hunt for a new corporate overlord I came across Amazon AWS and found that they offer a lot of the same services for their business clients, but they don’t offer the free services like Google. Don’t get me wrong, for a low monthly fee I’m willing to pay to get what I need, the problem is AWS seems a little scattershot and really is more focused on business, so it really doesn’t fit my needs.
All this got me thinking, Amazon already has the basic infrastructure to take on Google, with a little work they could beat Google at their own game and relegate them back to what they started off as, a search company. Right now Google is building up ill will by pushing out half baked products, killing beloved products, and being notorious for their lack of customer support. If Amazon were to take things they already have, AWS, Prime services, and Twitch and put them together into a consumer grade offering, they could start pulling users from Google.
There would be slow adoption rate at first but once people saw that Amazon was sticking with it and enough early adopters started talking about it more and more people would start using Amazon services over Google. An big key would be data transfer, no one wants to just leave everything they’ve got on Google, so Amazon would have to set up enough equivalent products that Google users could use Google Takeout and use an easy uploader on Amazon to migrate their data without loss.
What Amazon would need to get people to switch
This is the basic list of what I think Amazon would have to offer to get people to even think about switching. Obviously there would have to be mobile apps for all these as well, no one these days are going to make the switch if they can’t access their services on their phones and tablets.
Gmail is one of the most popular email providers with it’s spam filtering, tags, archiving, and mobile apps, it’s by far the best, of course Amazon would have to match Gmail but they could do it if they tried.
A calendar equivalent to to Google’s calendar is another essential must have, I know I use mine every day and I’m sure most other people do too.
File Storage with Docs, Sheets and Slides
Google Drive is how I store most documents and spreadsheets, most users are accustomed to having their documents, spreadsheets, and presentations all saved in Google Drive, not offering this would limit adoption significantly.
There would also need to be a host of informational site for finance, sports,, ect. and these would have to be able to be easily tied in with documents, spreadsheets, and presentations. I like a lot of people who are into the stock market like to keep a spreadsheet of my holdings (limited as they are) and to plan future buys, and right now I use a clunky bit of code to pull Google Finance data into the spreadsheet, so not only would Amazon need to start offering a way to make spreadsheets but they would also have to offer a Google Finance like service for pulling data from. and that’s just me, other people run fantasy sports leagues on spreadsheets so having an all-in-one sports stats, scores, and news site would have to be a priority as well.
Everyone uses Google Maps, Amazon would have to offer great mapping services and give great directions. Of course if they do what I think they are going to do and set up their own fleet of delivery vehicles then they could just use those as mapping and photographing vehicles at the same time.
This one is easy, Amazon already has Prime Music and if they allowed people to upload their own music (up to a limit equivalent to Google limit) then more people would use Prime Music over Google Music and the sales would follow. Also the Prime Music app needs updated, for me at least it’s a little buggy.
I switched from Evernote to Google Keep and while Keep is alright I would prefer something more like Evernote, Amazon could offer an easy to use note taking service with mobile apps and even have it tied in with it’s file storage service.
Everyone remembers the death of Google Reader and there hasn’t really been a perfect replacement since, Amazon could offer a Google Reader replacement and win over a lot of users right away.
YouTube has been shooting it’s self in the foot repeatedly the past few years and more and more people are looking for alternatives, Amazon already has Twitch so why not just turn it into the YouTube alternative and start aggressively recruiting content producers? There has been reports that YouTube has threatened to shut down channels that post on other services so just tell creators that they can post their videos anywhere they want and that they won’t have their channels shut down on Twitch. Also make the Twitch interface more like the YouTube interface to make the transition to Twitch easier for both creators and viewers.
A lot of people use Blogger, this blog started out as a Blogger blog, the main thing people don’t like about Blogger is that it’s so limited compared to WordPress, so just offer a blogging platform for all users based on WordPress. The main thing Amazon would have to do to get more people to switch is make an easy to use migration tool that also handles 301 redirects.
Currently business services are kind of a piecemeal setup, you pick and choose what you want and need, and that’s fine back-end work. But if Amazon is to really take on Google they would also need a “one click and get it all” business suite like G Suite. Businesses already trust Amazon with AWS but they trust Google G Suite for email, calendar, file storage, and a multitude of other things, Amazon could leverage the trust they have with AWS and brand more businesses over to the Amazon ecosystem if they just put a little work into it.
Obviously Amazon can’t just stop there and expect to dominate Google, they would have to expand into more of Googles turf and keep innovating to stay ahead. Below are just some of the things I think Amazon would have to move into to really take on Google and dominate them.
Amazon can already host sites but they don’t really advertise it, also from what I’ve seen it’s not a simple hosting service, it seems to be geared more towards IT and tech savvy people. Amazon would need to build a web host some simple anyone could build their own site, or at the very least get a WordPress blog set up with just a few clicks. This could also tie in with the free blog I suggested above, make it a simple few clicks to move your “myblog.amazon.com” blog to an Amazon hosted “myblog.com”.
Google is a domain name registrar and it makes it easier than ever to get a domain name and blog going in one place, Amazon has to offer the same level of connivance if it wants to prove it can take on Google.
Another core market that Google dominates is display ads with it’s AdWords and AdSence programs, Amazon would have to take on both products at once since really they go hand in hand. The only thing I would suggest is that they combine the two services under one name, this would streamline the operation for people like me who both run ads and display ads, having one central hub for both would be so much nicer than having to go between two sites (minor inconvenience that it is).
If Amazon is going to offer an advertising network they will of course have to offer an analytics service as well, I’d say that this should be tied into the advertising network for a combined hub, but also allow users to just use the data analytics without using the advertising network is they so choose.
Admittedly the social network game is difficult to get into, and Amazon would have to stay with it for the long haul, but just because Google Plus didn’t take off doesn’t mean there isn’t demand for a Facebook alternative. Amazon already has almost all of Facebook’s users as customers so if they were to build a social network that resembled Facebook and then didn’t make the mistake that Google did in pushing it down everyone throat people would check it out and probably decide that since they already have an Amazon account and the social network is now included they might as well give it a try. If Amazon were to tie in Twitch for video hosting, Amazon Photos for pictures, give a decent news feed, and a separate mobile app for the social network, I’d bet people would install it and use it.
Speaking of apps, Amazon really needs to upgrade their app store. Right now the Amazon app store is seen as a joke, by creating a more feature rich and unified app store like Google Play Amazon could shake the stigma of a bad app store and move one step closer to taking on Google.
While we’re talking about the app store we might as swell also talk about the Fire Phone, I think the reason the Fire Phone failed was because it pushed way to hard to sell Amazon products. I understand that Amazon wants to push people to the site to get them to buy, but very quickly that kind of pushing gets distasteful and drives people away, I know that the daily “Deal Alert” on my phone got old fast and I dug into my settings to turn off the notifications from the Amazon app. If Amazon were to try again and this time just keep it a simple Android phone with a lite Amazon skin and the core Amazon services installed I think people would be willing to give it a second chance, though I do think that Jeff Bezos would have to publicly say that they over reached the first time around but that they learn ed from their mistakes and it won’t happen again. There’s also the added benefit that Amazon could design and sell their own phone and offer a high quality phone at a price lower than similar phones currently on the market.
And while we’re talking about Apps and Phones why not offer a phone service like Google’s Project Fi. People are sick of paying $80 to $100 per month for service and options like Project Fi and Ting are gaining in popularity, if Amazon were to offer a service like that and not only allow their own phones on the network but other models on as well that would put them ahead of Project Fi in a heartbeat.
I like most Google users am still mad at Google for killing Google Hangouts, if Amazon were to create an all-in-one messaging service that could run on phones, tablets, and computers I know I’d switch right away. Offering this on top of everything else could be want tips the scales for a lot of people and brings them over to Amazon, even if they just dip their toe in the water at least it makes them aware of what Amazon had to offer.
Creating an Amazon branded browser would also help keep people in the ecosystem, more and more people are moving away from Chrome because it’s getting so bloated, if Amazon were to either work with Firefox to create an Amazon branded Firefox browser, or just create their own (though I’d suggest just working with Firefox) then the tie in with all the services and the all-in-one messaging could be seamless and make for a great experience for the end user and customer.
Ok this is a little more “pie in the sky” but I’ll throw it in anyway, Amazon could create a Linux based operating system. If Amazon really though ahead they would design a computer, phone, and tablet operating system from the ground up. I know they already have the Android based Kindle Fire devices, but I’m talking about starting over completely and working from the ground up, sure they’d have to continue supporting the current devices, but the real work should go into the new all-in-one OS. Giving developers one OS to design for would be huge, and for the users being able to move from computer, to tablet, to phone and stay with the same system would be a game changer that even Google hasn’t been able to pull off.
Let’s face it people generally hate their ISP’s and Google Fiber was seen as a beacon of hope, but they’ve seemed to stop and the ISP’s have won. Now with more and more Amazon fulfillment centers popping up there is a way for Amazon to run fiber lines form the centers to the homes and businesses all around it slowly moving further and further out until the majority of the population is connected via an Amazon Fiber connection. Pair that with an Amazon phone service and Amazon could be an even bigger household name than it ever would be as an eCommerce site.
Echo Devices + Mesh WiFi
Amazon already has the lead in the digital assistant market, sure the system needs some work (search, string commands together, contextual conversations, cast to other devices, shortcuts, ect.) but one thing that Amazon could do right away is take on Google WiFi by integrating a WiFi mesh network into the Amazon Echo devices. Home mesh networks are becoming popular very fast, I know I just set one up with Google WiFi and now have the best WiFi my home has ever had, if Amazon were to offer this feature with all it’s Echo devices it would be a huge two for one selling point. Having a WiFi mesh hub built into all the echo devices strewn around a home would be a nice convince for customers and would be a good selling point since then you’d only need once device for two functions instead of the current echo for digital assistant and WiFi mesh hub for the internet, plus it would make hooking up new echo’s even easier if it were all in one app.
Amazon should get into the smart home game in an even bigger way, go after the Nest product line and offer Echo thermostats, Echo cameras (which they just started to dip their toes into), Echo fire and CO2 detectors, Echo video doorbells, and Echo home security systems. If the whole system tied in with the Alexa powered Echo devices it could be one seamless system from a company that doesn’t try to overprice everything and has some staying power.
Amazon has the power to take on Google on almost every front, and if they really wanted to, and they were to willing to stick with it for the long haul, they could give Google a challenge that no other tech company has been able to give them. The one thing I would suggest that Amazon stay away from is search, that really is Google’s domain and trying to take that on would be almost impossible, really pulling customers away with services outside of search would be the way to go.
This also could have the side benefit of forcing Google to get it’s act together and stop angering it’s customers and then we’d have some real competition that would lead to some real innovation and ultimately be a huge win for customers of both companies which is the real benefit for everyone.
I do want to say one last thing, if Amazon were to go down this path and really try to take on Google I would suggest that they also do everything they can do use and be open source. The reason I say this is closed sourced systems have less trust, and open source systems contribute back to the whole open source community and everyone wins in that scenario, plus it’s not bad from a P.R. standpoint.