Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

Summary: Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt outlined his "gang of four"---Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook---with massive platforms, scale and global reach. The big question is whether these companies can continue to execute.


Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt outlined his "gang of four"---Google, Amazon, Apple and Facebook---with massive platforms, scale and global reach. The big question is whether these companies can continue to execute.

Speaking at the AllThingsD D9 conference Schmidt said the globe has "never had companies growing that fast at that scale."

That growth "has not been possible before," said Schmidt. Previous tech eras were ruled by one company---Microsoft and then IBM for that.

Schmidt omitted Microsoft from his list because it doesn't drive the consumer market anymore and is largely an enterprise play. He gave props to Microsoft's Xbox, but put the company in the Windows/Office box.

According to Schmidt the relationship between the gang of four components varies. For instance, Google partners with Apple on search and maps and competes on mobile operating systems. Google "tried very hard" to partner with Facebook as a way to improve search. Now Google wants to form an alternative to Facebook to produce better search results.

Amazon also falls in the partner and competitor depending on the market.

The kicker to this gang of four chat was that Schmidt expects one of the companies to stumble. The gang of four is too large to consolidate. It's more likely that "one misses the mark," said Schmidt, who added that the lifetime as a platform play is shorter. "Can each company maintain product excellence?"

That final question is notable. Among the gang of four, which company is most at risk to stumble? It's quite possible that Google may be among those most likely to fumble as it wrestles with size and continuing to innovate. Thoughts?

Topics: Google, Social Enterprise

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  • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

    Amazon, Google and Facebook are doing lots of dabbling outside of their original business and I think any one of these forays could easily collapse with them safely retreating into their original gig, which oddly enough are all services only. Apple on the other hand has the most to lose as their business is a tightly integrated array of hardware/software products and services. However I think Apple does the whole widget better than anyone. Their ability to roll out new products that seem to define popular consumer electronics markets with such ease, makes it extremely unlikely that they will fail in the foreseeable future. Apple is closing the era of the Personal Computer as we know it.
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      Essentially only mobile products, and Android is gaining/beating them depending on how you look at it.
      • Or loosing.


        If the game is to maximize your returns, Google is making almost nothing and Apple has 57% profit share of all handset sales.
  • Huh?

    Wow. Ommitting Microsoft. That's odd. Google is in direct competition with Microsoft, so is Apple. Facebook and MS collaborate. I say that makes it as much a part of the gang as Amazon.

    Amazon feels like a strange choice since it doesn't really have its own product ( aside from Kindle ) to sell, while the others do.
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      They directly compete with Apple through ebooks and emusic, and the latter is where Apple had their rebirth in the post Napster world. I would say Amazon qualifies. As for MS, I would say that they do too, but are slipping.
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      @jetsethi: Google compete with Microsoft in the Enterprise arena, not consumer arena. Which is what the article is about. Windows Phone anyone? Sure Windows 7 is popular but it doesn't win hearts and minds.

      Has Microsoft ever been big in the consumer space? There's Xbox obviously and prior to the iPhone more people relied on Windows for their computing needs but to call Microsoft a "consumer" company is a stretch.

      The Xbox is very much the exception here, they've always been most serious when it comes to businesses. More so than Apple (MAC OS X Server anyone?), who are going more and more for the consumer only space. They barely make an effort in the business/enterprise arena.

      Amazon is an odd one. Right now they're a massive online retailer (with an eBook reader) but if Amazon's Cloud Drive takes off and when they release a tablet, this will change.

      I don't see Apple or Google failing, they're too strong in their respective fields. Facebook is doing seriously well but all it's cookies are in the success of one website.

      Amazon don't ave much experience in non-online retailer sales. I'd pick Amazon to fail, then Facebook.
      • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

        @bradavon - How can you not call Microsoft a consumer company, are you high or just ignorant. Over 80% of the people at home surfing the net are using a Windows PC are they not consumers are we all enterprise useers, even at home, I don't think so. Without microsoft there is no Google, Facebook, Apple, Amazon, Intel and so on. Microsoft with its OS and marketshare is what holds everything together, even hardware companies rely on Microsoft if you want to buy components such as printers, monitors, mouse and keyboard, videocards, sound cards and so on, all of which are consumer products. You want to watch movies, listen to music, edit your videos and pictures? Guess what its all done by the consumer on their PC so explain to me how MS is not a consumer company. Consumers also buy Office, Windows and the variousother software they produce. If MS closed their eco system thru code in their OS like Apple does they would have a tight control into who could flourish in the net and software enviroment by who they allow into the system but because of their size and marketshare they would get into legal issues. Apple does not have such legal problems because their market share is not large enough to create a concern.
  • Message has been deleted.

  • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

    Google's business largely depends on search, when that goes Google could be in huge trouble, especially if it goes quickly and Google hasn't positioned itself so that it can transition to making money some other way.

    Facebook could go down quickly as well. Just look how fast Myspace went the way of the dinosaur. Admittedly Facebook is far more pervasive and entrenched than Myspace, however, it is still a company that is vulnerable imho.

    Apple is a strong company that continues to sell well and make products that consumers want, with high quality to boot, however, this is all dependent on Steve Jobs. When Steve Jobs dies, Apple may very well begin to languish and backslide again, just like Microsoft has continued to do since the departure of Bill Gates.

    Amazon is probably the most secure. Although like the previous poster noted, it is also probably the least deserving to be on this list of the big four as it doesn't produce much of a product of its own and doesn't drive the industry or innovate much.
  • Google has the largest internal struggles.

    Is it Android or is it Chrome OS? Android is a platform that "Appifies" the net and this goes against Google's core business. Chrome OS centers perfectly to Google's interests. Likewise, Android does little to help Google's bottom line; this can be seen where AAPL is growing at > 3X the rate of GOOG and >2X that of AMZN.

    So GOOG makes lots of money but it is basically on a single product line. They make obscen amounts on advertising, and like Microsoft, that allows GOOG to continue putting huge amounts of money in low revenue streams. Any disruptions of this stream could sink GOOG over-night.

    AMZN is a unique company and I could see them making a play for a forked version of Android for tablets. AMZN could cut out GOOG almost completely. Both Bing and MapQuest have substantially better and more accurate maps. AMZN already hase media solved and don't need GOOG's offerings. They have huge server farms and could host email and other services. This is a gamble, however, for AMZN. Will the populous buy an non-Android but still Android platform? The payoffs for AMZN are potentially HUGE.

    FB is the immediate threat to GOOG in the right here and now. GOOG is not really making any money off of Android so loosing it to AMZN has little impact. FB, however, is a real threat as people spend more time staying in the big city (FB) and less time traveling around the world (Internet). But FB could also be a fad that people tire of. It is cheap to move to a new city.

    AAPL is the only one that is making a real physical product (OK AMZN has the Kindle). They are dependent on consistently re-inventing themselves. They have had a great track record for the last 10 years but that does not mean it will continue forever. The iPad has at least another 3 years of steam in it even if they mess it up. It could have another 10+ years if they play their cards right.
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      If the lessons of Microsoft vs. Apple in the 80s and 90s has taught us anything, you do not need to sell hardware to achieve world status. Stop thinking that way.
      • You are right...

        @hoaxoner <br><br>The lessons of the 2000 are much better. Notice how Plays for Sure totally cleaned Apple's clock in music... Wait....<br><br>When will people stop being stupid by bringing up stupid analogies.<br><br>What the 80's and 90's taught us was you could still become the worlds most profitable tech company selling hardware.
  • Gang of Five probably...

    Why not Google + Yahoo and possibly AOL team up? It may not be too late but waiting any longer would make things worse...
    -- knowledge notebook
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?


      Dude, don't say that. The world would explode. Three crappy companies all rolled into one. No thanks.
      The one and only, Cylon Centurion
  • Eric Schmidt is clueless

    No wonder Google kicked him to the kerb
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      @hubivedder You do know he's still with them, right?
  • Delusional, arrogant Google

    Google has lost touch with reality.

    Most people consume most his so-called "gang of four" via a Windows PC.

    Omitting MS is wishful thinking. Google has tried to take them on for years, but they're still #1 in those markets.

    As for consumer technology, Kinect holds the official world record for the fastest-selling gadget of all time!

    Google failing to face up to the supreme and rising power of MS for consumer markets is a critical weakness strategic error. The Xbox platform alone beats anything Google has, it's not just for games anymore.
    Tim Acheson
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      @Tim Acheson But like Media Center , MS is not marketing it correctly. That combined with XBox is really cool stuff, it's easy to setup and work great. By freaky accidents I have 3 XBox machines. I have three TV's connect, we can watch any and all content around the house, MS just does not market that and I don't know why. You take that with the HUGE XBox population and you have a pretty slick tool. Zune is the same way, the software is far better than iTunes. the Zune holds up better than the iTouch/iPod...yet they did not market it well.
    • RE: Eric Schmidt's gang of four: Who will stumble first?

      @Tim Acheson Microsoft should do what Apple did and take their popular consumer product and name everything they do for consumers by it. (Xbox phone, Xbox Music Service).
      • Maybe just 'X'

        @ Slurpdog

        Xbox, Xphone, Xpad, Xtunes, Xpod, etc. ;) Too severe a form of Apple copying for my taste, but funny if they did it.