It seems like it's getting close to impossible to talk about Microsoft ( MSFT) without sooner or later mentioning Google ( GOOG). Or vice versa. The rivalry sparked a heated debate on this site this past week. First, Doug Kass
made the case that "Microsoft will provide the first real challenge to Google," prompting Michael Comeau to counter that any fall for Google won't be caused by "inroads from Gates & Co." Then Cody Willard argued that "Google still has everyone, including Microsoft, on their heels, and Google's on the offensive rather than the defensive." Elsewhere on the Internet, John Battelle, the author of the recently published The Search (and, full disclosure, my former boss at The Industry Standard), stirred up a discussion among bloggers by wondering: "Has the worm turned?" For Google, that is, as it did for Microsoft at the end of the 1990s, when its plans for complete domination of online commerce fell apart in the face of antitrust cases. To summarize, one of these things is going to happen: Google cleans Microsoft's clock. Microsoft cleans Google's clock. Google's clock stops after the growth in online spending peaks. Google is Microsoft, following the same hubris-driven trajectory. Before I cast my vote, let's look at some of the issues raised.