There’s an interesting, but short and rather unsubstantiated, article on Yahoo! Business today in which Nicholas Carlson argues that it’s Amazon, rather than the likes of Apple and Microsoft, that is giving Google sleepless nights right now. Carlson makes some good points about how consumers seek out information online, and it’s clear that Amazon is edging into some of Google’s traditional territory.
The gist of the article is that consumers are increasingly skipping Google and using Amazon instead when they want to search for potential purchases. This is significant because so-called ‘commercial searches’ make up about 20% of Google’s search traffic and are vital to the profitability of Google’s ad-based services. If consumers are using Amazon rather than Google to find items, you can see why Google would be worried.
This isn’t the first time such concerns have been aired. Back in July, a Forrester Research study showed that 30% of online buyers now start their search at Amazon compared to less than half that number who start at Google; these figures are a stark reversal of the situation just a couple of year ago. It’s clear that consumers’ search patterns are changing, and Amazon would obviously like to lock those consumers in so that they rarely look elsewhere to make a purchase.
It might be a bit over-the-top to suggest that Google genuinely fears Amazon. All Amazon is doing is encroaching on one of Google’s traditional profit centres, at a time when Google is branching out aggressively. There’s room for both companies, and others, at the top of the tech tree. But it’s clear that Amazon is increasingly dominating the online commerce scene, at least for some consumers, and that’s likely to worry smaller companies even more than it worries Google.