Google's 10 toughest rivals

Apple, Microsoft and IBM among tech firms poised to ramp up competition with Google in 2010

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Microsoft's Internet Explorer has been the premier browser since the late 1990s. Microsoft introduced version 8 of IE in March 2009, claiming it is the fastest, most stable and secure browser on the market. So far, Google's introduction of its Chrome browser -- currently in version 3 -- hasn't chipped away at Microsoft's dominance. Chrome had just 3.7% of browser market share in October, according to Janco Associates.

The question is whether this dynamic will shift when Google unveils its Chrome OS in 2010, which is designed specifically for netbooks. The first netbooks with Chrome OS installed -- including a system that Acer is developing -- aren't expected until the second half of 2010.

8. Nokia.

Nokia is the world's No. 1 mobile phone manufacturer, with four out of every 10 mobile phones sold. Although Nokia has lost market share to Apple and RIM, Nokia still shipped more than 108 million units in the third quarter of 2009 alone, racking up billions of dollars in sales.


The rivalry between Nokia and Google surrounds the operating system for smartphones.

Nokia has its own Symbian open source operating system, which competes against Google's Android. Despite rumors last summer, Nokia says it's sticking with Symbian and has no plans to sell an Android-based mobile phone or netbook . In the meantime, Nokia is teaming up with Microsoft to bring Office Mobile to Symbian devices. Nokia's CEO said in December that a new-and-improved version of Symbian will ship next year. Nokia also will ship high-end devices that run the Linux-based Maemo operating system.

Meanwhile, Google's Android is poised for major developments in 2010. More than 50 Android-based devices are expected to ship in 2010, compared to 10 in 2009, according to CSS Insight. Among the vendors who have committed to Android are Acer, Sony Ericcson, HTC and Motorola. Market researcher ABI predicts that Android devices will own nearly a quarte of the smartphone market by 2014.

9. Verizon

Google and Verizon are true frenemies; they've tussled over spectrum space, but they're teaming up on smartphones. Google has a powerful ally and sometime rival in Verizon, which has rung up more than $105 billion in revenues in the last four quarters.


Verizon is teaming up with Google for one reason: to slow the growth of Apple's iPhone and the revenue it brings to arch-rival AT&T.

In October, Verizon and Google announced an agreement to jointly develop Android-based smartphones, PDAs and netbooks. Verizon's first Android-based smartphone is the Motorola Droid, which hit stores in November. Verizon also said it would support Google Voice on its Android handsets.

Verizon hasn't always been Google's buddy. In 2008, Verizon chose Microsoft as its mobile phone search provider. This decision came after Google complained to the FCC that Verizon wasn't moving quickly enough to open up access to its wireless data network. In a surprising move, Google and Verizon in October released a joint position on network neutrality in which they called themselves "unlikely bedfellows."

10. Yahoo

When it comes to search, one of Google's biggest competitors besides Microsoft is Yahoo. Although it was bloodied by the failed Microsoft take-over in 2008, Yahoo still churned out more than $1.5 billion in revenue in each of the first three quarters of 2009.


Yahoo competes against Google in news, e-mail and, most importantly, search.

Yahoo has made some improvements in 2009 by integrating search with its rich content. Users can watch videos or stream music straight from the Yahoo search results page. Yahoo also helps users find travel deals and compare product prices. Yahoo recently added Twitter to its search pages.

Yahoo's search capabilities could change dramatically in 2010, if a joint search and advertising deal between Yahoo and Microsoft is approved by federal regulators. The deal -- inked in December --would allow Yahoo to integrate Microsoft's Bing search engine into its portal, while Yahoo would provide search advertising results to both companies. The Yahoo/Microsoft deal is aimed at helping the two companies compete against Google.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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