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Google vs. Amazon: How the Two Giants Are Competing to Offer You More

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By Summar Ghias, dealnews contributor

Amazon and Google are not the first tech conglomerates to duke it out, but the search engine and ecommerce giant have notably ventured far beyond their original services — sometimes in ways you might not expect. From online shopping to hardware and cloud computing, these two powerhouses now compete head-to-head in a variety of markets. And while we can't declare a winner, we have been keeping score. Here's a snapshot of the arenas in which the two are battling it out.


Express Delivery

On March 28, Google put the rumors to rest and officially announced it would be testing local, same-day delivery in San Francisco. Google's foray into such a service is a concerted effort to compete with other same-day shipping retailers, perhaps most notably Amazon, which has offered its Prime members 2-day shipping since 2005, and earlier this year launched an expedited same-day delivery service in 10 cities across the nation.

To compete, Google Shopping Express aims to offer local Bay Area residents same-day delivery for orders placed with participating retailers. Local Toys "R" Us, Staples, Target, and Walgreens stores, and even regional shops like Blue Bottle Coffee are taking part in Google's day-of delivery, which is made possible in part to Google's acquisition of Bufferbox. Not only are orders fulfilled same-day, but shoppers will never miss a delivery again, as Bufferbox offers storage lockers for deliveries. Similar to an Amazon Locker, Bufferboxes make it easy for customers to pick up their goods at their convenience.

Online Shopping

Founded in 1995, Amazon started as an eCommerce website, and now its name is synonymous with "online shopping." As a megastore and a platform for nearly 2 million third-party retailers, 30% of America's online shoppers look to Amazon, before searching Google; this certainly poses a threat to Google as it vies to remain a relevant search engine in the retail realm. In a renewed effort to do so, Google Shopping was revamped last year to include sponsored links and paid product listings; notably absent in shopping results were Amazon listings. Accordingly, the new Google Shopping sent 96% more traffic to retailers than Amazon did during the last quarter of 2012, making it a hot contender for merchants looking to direct traffic to their own websites.

Hardware

The Nexus 7 and Kindle Fire HD are direct competitors in the land of 7" tablets, and both are built around the content of their respective brands. While the Kindle Fire (and its iterations) may be a top-selling item on Amazon — and a possible Amazon smartphone could bring a similarly large marketshare to the company — Google already has its feet firmly planted in the smartphone industry. The Google Nexus 4 isn't perfect, but Google's partnership with LG makes this Android smartphone a contender for the anti-iPhone crowd.

Digital Content

According to The Economist, Amazon was the source of about two-thirds of all digital book downloads in the U.S. last year. With an environment flush with digital music, TV shows, and movies available via Video On Demand (and other content free to Prime members), Amazon boasts a broad range of streaming content. Google, too, offers similar content via Google Play and is the parent of YouTube, but its digital fare is much smaller and lackluster in comparison.

Cloud Computing

Amazon launched cloud computing back in 2006 and now offers 30 related services including its Cloud Player, which can scan and match music that you didn't even buy with Amazon, and Amazon Elastic Compute Cloud, which provides easier web-scale computing for developers and plenty of storage space. Similarly, Google Compute Engine lets customers run large-scale computing workloads atop virtual machines that use the same infrastructure that runs Google Search, Gmail, and Ads. It also stores and allows remote access to user information via Google Drive.

Daily Deals

Both companies jumped on the daily deals bandwagon in 2011 with the launch of Google Offers and AmazonLocal. Despite Groupon rejecting Google's billion-dollar acquisition offer last year, Google Offers promotes deals arranged by other daily deal sites (like Gilt City) in addition to its own locally-sourced offers. As for Amazon, the company owns nearly a third of LivingSocial, allowing it to strategically source LivingSocial deals within its own service. Even still, both daily deal iterations have failed to beat out the original heavyweight, keeping Groupon head of the pack.

In this battle of tech giants, there is no clear knockout. With a wide variety of directly competing initiatives to call their own, Amazon and Google possess strongholds that could potentially cut deep into the other's revenue. And while Amazon does seem to more clearly have an advantage in cloud computing and digital content, Google's ad wizardry, online shopping threat, and hardware expansion leave this throwdown up for grabs — with consumers standing to benefit.

Front page photo credit: eCommerce Circle
Photo credits top to bottom: WDS NJ,
CNET, Stay On Fountain, Gigaom, and Mashable



Summar Ghias is a freelance writer who attributes her love for big cities to the diverse cultural, artistic, and food-centric experiences that can be had in them. A former assistant editor at Budget Travel, Ghias has freelanced at several other titles including Girlfriend Getaways, Discover, People, In New York, Spinner.com, and AOL Travel, among others.

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Please note that, although prices sometimes fluctuate or expire unexpectedly, all products and deals mentioned in this feature were available at the lowest total price we could find at the time of publication (unless otherwise specified).
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1 comment
moremiles
If not using Amazon Prime free shipping but the regular free shipping Amazon will intentionally hold orders for few days before shipping it out. I'm guessing it's to get us to signup of Amazon Prime. UPS normally takes 2 days to get to my house from Amazon warehouse. If I can find the same item for same price elsewhere I'll go there. Even Amazon's re-sellers ships item's faster. I recently got item from a east coast shipped to California faster than from Amazon ordered the same day.
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