Today, Google sits pretty on the top, and now threatens none other than internet giant Microsoft, not as an undisputable search engine, but as a provider of business applications by way of Google Apps.
Here's a look at how Google is harassing Microsoft at its own game, that of businesses, and otherwise.
1. Microsoft launched its search engine called Bing in 2009. Though the launch saw much fanfare, Bing has not done well, at all.
In 2010, Microsoft's search engines - Bing, Live Search and MSN - shared a mere 12.5 per cent of searches on the internet, while Google had 65 per cent of the market share.
In 2012, according to numbers from Nasdaq-listed comScore, a leader in measuring the digital world, Google commands 67 per cent of the market share, while Bing forms 16.2 per cent of the chart.
While Yahoo dropped a tenth of a percentage point to 12.1 per cent, and Ask.com and AOL.com also saw slight drops to 3 per cent (down from 3.2 per cent) and 1.7 per cent (down from 1.8 per cent), respectively, Bing saw a marginal increase by O.2 per cent in the year.
2. The look and feel of Microsoft's search engine is similar to Google's. So, why is Google racing ahead? Sheer luck or early bird advantage, experts still wonder.
3. Searches on the internet put aside, it's Google's software for businesses - Google Apps - that has Microsoft worried. Till now Microsoft's forte, Google is fast eating into the businesses. Reason: Google is offering more features at a cheaper cost. More importantly, Google charges a mere $50 per user against Microsoft's $72, and it has not changed that price since inception, though it has added many more features. The latest feature added by Google this year itself lets users work on the internet while staying offline.
4. The battle between the two giants is also over who is the third-most valuable company on the stock markets, after Exxon Mobil and Apple. On October 1, Google briefly became the world’s second-largest technology company by market capitalisation at $249.5 billion against Microsoft's $247.8 billion. This shift didn't happen in a day. Google gained more than 18 per cent in the previous six months, compared to Microsoft that saw its share sink over 8 per cent in the same period.
5. The two companies are involved in a number of lawsuits. In September, Microsoft marked its third court victory over Google in Germany. The case involved Google's Motorola unit. A German court ruled that most of Motorola tablets and phones infringed an app to handle different kinds of user input. Samsung, HTC and others pay a licence to use the technology, but Motorola had resisted on this part.
After this loss, Google faces additional sales restrictions in the country unless it makes changes to its operating system - Android.
The latest victory for Microsoft was on December 21 over a 2002 patent owned by Google’s Motorola Mobility. "The 2002 patent owned by Motorola Mobility shouldn’t have been issued as the technology was obvious to experts in the field at the time ... The patent is invalid and should be revoked,” the judge of a UK court had ruled.
With inputs from agencies