The Fabulous Five and the Scramble for Territory

The Fabulous Five and the Scramble for TerritoryGoogle, Apple, Facebook, Samsung, and Amazon are in a mad scramble to enter new territory and cover gaps in their strategies. The one that gets ahead and stays ahead will earn bragging rights in what may be the most significant business battle of all time. These companies are the Fabulous Five.

Let’s look at how each company is placed in the following domains: hardware design and manufacturing, software development and integration, consumer retailing, mobile, voice and digital communications, social, search, and entertainment.

Why these? I believe the company that covers the biggest footprint across these domains and integrates them in a way that touches the most consumers will become the dominant lifestyle company. Notice I did not call it B2B, B2C, or even the dominant tech company. The battle being fought here is to become a part of the consumer’s life in a way that allows the company to learn key insights that can be monetized. It is the battle for the consumer subconscious in a way.

Here is where I see them today:

The Fabulous Five and the Scramble for Territory

No one should be surprised to see Google and Apple covering more territory than the others. But notice the lack of coverage by Facebook. More than the others, the pressure on Facebook to enter new territories must be enormous. That might explain its most recent announcement about Graph Search, a capability that will rival Google. Here is an excerpt from CNET:

After nine years of colonizing the globe and corralling a billion people, Facebook has found a way to unlock the potential of its massive data collection — a basic semantic search engine that will let it build smarter services for travel, food, recruitment, dating and other verticals that will generate revenue that could rival Google’s. Graph Search is the beginning of the Enlightenment, the next major phase in Facebook’s history, in which people gain the “power and tools to take any cut of the graph and make any query they want,” as CEO Mark Zuckerberg said during the product launch event at Facebook’s Menlo Park, Calif., headquarters earlier this week.

Graph Search is about providing answers, extracted from the data your friends feed into Facebook. It’s not Web search, which typically generates a series of links for a query, with the exception of current stock prices, weather  and many other standard queries. But Graph Search is limited in scope and usefulness at this stage. It is in a beta phase that will last for many months.

Facebook will no doubt continue to enter new domains. Its move into Communications with a Skype-like app is hardly enough, and one wonders whether it will make a move to acquire Blackberry.

Also notice the thin coverage in territory by Amazon. Don’t count them out just yet. Amazon is also a viable contender for a Blackberry deal, and it has the resources to enter more domains. The areas of Social and Search seem to be the most glarring ommissions.

Samsung has gaps, too. It desparately needs its own operating system so it can break the chains with Google. They are certainly headed in that direction given the announcment at CES about Tizen.

Pound for pound, Google has the others beat in terms of collecting monetizable insights. But the price point for that data is low (for now) especially when you compare it to the premium prices (and margins) of Apple products. High margins fund future projects.

The battle is far from over.

image credit: barbed wire image from bigstock

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Drew BoydDrew Boyd is Assistant Professor of Marketing and Innovation at the University of Cincinnati and Executive Director of the MS-Marketing program. Follow him at www.innovationinpractice.com and at http://twitter.com/drewboyd

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