Feb 25, 2022, Business

Amazon vs Google – Battle of the Giants

John Oxley Business Consultant

If you took a street poll of 100 computer-literate people, the chances are they would all answer ‘Google’ to the question ‘What search engine do you use?’, and ‘Amazon’ for ‘What is the largest online retailer in the world?’. And of course, they would be right, for today. But what about the future? 

Both tech giants offer a wide variety of services other than searching and selling, and they are competing in many similar markets for your hard earned cash.

So, let’s take a look at what they offer outside of the norm.

(Fun fact: One of the original ‘angel investors’ in Google’s startup was Jeff Bezos, the Amazon guy. I wonder if he still has influence.) 

Amazon overview – products and services

Amazon is the largest online store in the world. No surprises there, but for most people it is just that. They go online and buy stuff, with the expectation that delivery will be swift and the product will do what it is supposed to do. There are over 3 million companies selling their products using Amazon’s website, from consumer electronics, clothing, food and books to industrial and scientific supplies. Everything sitting on my desk at the moment can be found and bought on Amazon, from my laptop to the wifi enabled lightbulb in my desk lamp.

But it is also the world’s largest cloud computing company, called AWS, or Amazon Web Services, with over 200 fully featured services offered, including servers, storage, email and security. It controls more than a third of the market, and is the primary source of profit for the company.

Google overview – products and services

Google’s main areas are media and entertainment. It will find the most useful information for users, listed by ranking. It has even become a verb – have you ever said ‘I’ll google it later’? Most users will recognise the search engine, Youtube, Gmail, Docs, Sheets, Assistant and so on, but there are over 250 other products and services that only serious lovers of tech use, like Android wear, Google Flights and Expeditions. 

Google also has its own operating system, Chrome OS, and numerous well-known computer manufacturers have created laptops called chromebooks. Portable, fast and well featured, these laptops are perfect for daily work, school or recreation.

Google is trying to take on Amazon in retailing, and we’ll see about that in the next section.

Why are they rivals?

According to Kantar BrandZ, Amazon and Google are 1st and 3rd respectively in the world’s most valuable brands. Amazon sits on a brand value of $683.9 Billion (2021) with Google resting at a miniscule $458B. 

Google is trying to break into the retail market, with a service called Google Shopping, which involves a search box, with matching results. From there, the customer clicks on a link and goes directly to the seller website. Almost like dropshipping, it takes Google out of the equation after a purchase is made.

However, Amazon has over three million sellers, and as of Q1 2021, Google had less than 8,000. Moreover, sellers are saying that Google Shopping is producing negligible sales. Google is struggling to impact the market, and has recently introduced commission-free selling to boost uptake, but it looks like the final round, with Google on the ropes. Even Walmart has more sellers online.

Google tries to cover the whole ‘customer journey’, from idea to purchase, whereas Amazon focuses on converting customers who already know what they want. Both use components of the Funnel method of TOFU (top of funnel – the realization of a need), MOFU (middle of  funnel – consideration and comparison of a product) and BOFU (bottom of funnel – to purchase or not). Amazon has locked up the MOFU and BOFU – they are simply the better option for e-commerce.

Finally, while Google is the most popular search engine in the world, Amazon is the most popular e-commerce search engine, with more than 54% of the search engine market

Comparison of products and services

I have scoured the internet looking for information, and it seems that opinions are divided. I have no personal experience with any digital devices listed below, except for Google Assistant on my phone.

Amazon Alexa vs Google Assistant

These two pieces of software come in various shaped enclosures. They both recognise up to six voices and react to questions and commands easily and quickly. Alexa seems to have the ability to give more information – for example, if Alexa is asked about the tallest mountain in the world, it will give ‘Mount Everest’ and additional information, but will also offer the fact that Mauna Kea is technically the highest, albeit with most of it underwater. Google Assistant will just respond with the basics.

But Google is much better with traffic news and public transport information, as you would expect. That’s a very important detail for those who want to know how long the commute will take. It also uses many more languages than Alexa.

Amazon Alexa seems to be the best choice for running a digital home.

Amazon Fire Stick vs Google Chromecast

Both of these devices are excellent for getting more out of an older ‘not smart’ TV. The Chromecast is cheaper, but not enough to make it a decision breaker. Both plug into a HDMI port at the rear of the TV, with the Chromecast having a flexible connector (for tight spaces) and the Fire Stick looking more like a USB stick. 

The Fire Stick comes with a remote and voice control, while the Chromecast does not, which means a smart speaker needs to be connected to use voice control.

If there are several users on one TV, Chromecast wins by having the option of multiple user IDs, useful for family members or if sharing a living space. Your ID remains private when you stop streaming or logout.

But if the pennies are not a problem, the Fire Stick has more options for a minimal price increase.

Amazon’s Twitch vs Google’s Youtube

Twitch was originally set up as an live streaming service, featuring esports and multi player games. Amazon bought Twitch in 2014 and it has continued to grow. There are huge online competitions in all manner of gaming, from racing to fantasy roleplay, with cash prizes for top players. It is easy to start streaming, and there are a variety of ways to make money, even for a beginner. As of 2021, it boasted 140 million active users every month.

Youtube is a storage point for pre-recorded videos, with some live streaming content available. It is user friendly and intuitive, and is more familiar to the general audience. It has a very wide scope of videos, from cooking shows, documentaries, historical reenactments,  gaming, real life sporting events and much more, and videos are recommended based on personal preferences and viewing habits. Although blocked in many countries, it still has a user base of more than 2 billion.

In 4 or 5 years, it’s possible that Youtube will take over as the top streaming platform, as more and more streamers leave Twitch and switch, mainly because of the ‘recommendation algorithm’ and its sheer size.

Amazon A9/A10 vs Google Search engines

Both search engines are similar, but focus on different end results. 

Google is a search platform, concentrating on researchers and browsers in discovery mode. 

Its strength lies in loading speed, topical relevance and the most useful links. However, getting a good first page ranking takes some time, based on building domain authority.

Amazon aims for shoppers in buying mode. They already know what they want, but may want to check out alternatives before buying, and Amazon does that really well. Their A9 (updated in 2019 to A10) engine is a cracker for their type of business, with their ‘frequently bought with’ suggestions making upselling easy.

Amazon Web Services (AWS) vs Google Cloud Platform (GCP)

It is difficult to have a discussion about these two platforms using price alone, as each one offers different structures and services, and with price wars ongoing, any results would probably change by the next working day.

However, it is easier to look at usage and services offered, with AWS offering over 200 services to GCP’s 95 (at most recent count). In 2020, AWS had 31% market share, with GCP on 6%, mainly because GCP didn’t introduce IaaS (Infrastructure as a Service) until 2010, while AWS started with it in 2006. Four years is a long time to play catch up.

For major enterprises and multinationals, AWS is probably the better choice, with more services and a good support background. On the other hand, GCP is an absolutely perfect fit for most companies, and it is cheaper in the long run. It offers greater choices of customisation compared to the rather limited choice in AWS. 

Of course, there is always the option of a multi cloud strategy, cherry picking the best options of each, if it’s difficult to decide.

Which brand is better overall?

I wish I didn’t have to answer this question. All of my research leads me to tip my hat towards Amazon, because they are huge and they just do their job so well. But Google is…..there, and possibly catching up. I feel that the youngsters of today are much more familiar with Google products and services, and perhaps that will roll over into the next generation of users.