Once upon a time when we uttered the term “the big 4” it used to refer to the illustrious club of big four accounting firms. No more. That term is now reserved for the four new emperors of new world order – Apple, Google, Facebook and Amazon.
Its pretty clear that the big four is going to rule us for a while. The more intriguing question is, out of these four, which one is going to reign supreme over and above the other 3.
A popular bet will be Apple. After all by market capitalization its already the second biggest company in the world (Behind only Exxon Mobil). With record revenues and profits in Q1 2012 and the soaring success of I-pad 3, not to mention the already crazy hype of much awaited i-phone 5, Apple is outliving the Jobs-era and set to rule from Wall Street to our heart. But what makes Apple create such fanatic following and the Steve Jobs ideals that made Apple such a phenomenon could be the same reason which could be a deterrent for the Apple juggernaut. I am referring to the tight end-to-end control that Apple has over his hardware and software. In an age where power is shifted from manufacturer to consumer, this kind of control could be a big turn off for consumers. If anything, the success of Android is telling us that consumers seem to be liking the flexibility and tinkering ability of Android much more than i-OS.
Facebook is growing at a phenomenal rate. But since they are still dependent on advertising to create revenue for them, the very definition of Facebook being a personal space maybe at jeopardy. The problem is, if Facebook stops being a personal space, than there is no reason for consumers to spend significant time there. And knowing how fickle-minded people are about changing their internet browsing habit, the continuity of Facebook as a popular space as well a huge money earning machine can be two incompatible visions. There is already significant backlash about privacy settings that Facebook is facing. The signs are there that this criticism and scrutiny will only grow.
Amazon is starting a revolution where they stop being an online retailer and start being the most dominant retailer in the planet, challenging even the mighty Walmart. Also with Kindle Fire, they are going into media and content business, and creating an eco-system that will probably rival Apple and Google. But the Amazon journey has just started and with significantly less presence in emerging world, Amazon will have to do a lot to catch up. And not to mention that through Kindle Fire, they are betting that they will earn a lot of money through content to make up for the loss they are incurring in hardware. So far, that dream is yet to materialize.
Which leaves us with Google. Google had more failures than success in the last 10 years and is still regarded as a one trick pony who gets all his glory and money through the search engine business. Even with all the popularity of Youtube, Google is yet to find out a way to generate significant money from Youtube. But despite that, smart money would be on Google to reign over Apple, Facebook and Amazon because of Android. What Microsoft has done through Windows for 20+ years, Google is about to do the same for mobile OS, through Android. And as mobile and tab is becoming the battleground of the future, few would bet against Google and its Android to win this war and become the undisputed heavyweight champion of the world in the new world order.