The Tech Taste Test

Jacob Harper  |

Microsoft (MSFT) , Google (GOOG) , and Facebook (FB) are three of the biggest names in tech. And they often go head-to-head, banging against each other with directly competing products. One of them isn’t necessarily beating the others to a bloody pulp, but that hasn’t stopped the companies from shelling out billions trying to get the upper hand.

We decided to take a quick mid-year peak at some of the bigger products currently being churned out by the companies, and see how they stack up.  

Facebook is the unquestioned leader in social media, with some 1.1 billion users and 701 million “active” users worldwide. Their most serious threat comes from Google and their Google Plus. In May, Google reported 359 million active users, which if you’re math savvy you quickly figured is right around half of Facebook’s.

Facebook appears to have the market covered in this arena, but there’s a hidden advantage to Google. Facebook has approached market saturation, with new users dwindling as they fully penetrate the global market. While reports in April suggesting that they were shedding “millions of users” a month is probably farfetched, the site has been hamstrung in finding new users.

This is where Google Plus is beginning to excel. And in a way, it’s by adapting the strategy of private social media company Twitter. While Facebook does suggest friends, based on who you probably know, Google Plus connects strangers, and utilizes Gmail to attract users who might not be on social media.

Android is the wildly popular operating system for the Samsung Galaxy. In April, Facebook announced Facebook Home. And it is one of the more unique approaches to competing. Facebook Home doesn’t necessarily present an alternative to Android. In fact, it is Android, but not entirely.

What Facebook Home does is turn a phone’s operating system into one with Facebook as its focus. The entire mobile device is, as Forbes put it, “Facebook-ized.” You can still access the standard Google features--but it’s all done via Facebook. The default is always a Facebook app.

While Facebook Home isn’t necessarily a parasite, it could very well pull a number of services to Facebook. Then again, Facebook Home--which went into beta on June 27--has some annoying bugs to work out.

Microsoft will be combining all three of its separate operating systems for tablets and smartphones. And they’re currently working on fusing them into a unifying OS, at the same time they’ve announced a restructuring as “One Microsoft.”

The greatest war of all between the companies is the world of search. Google is the king of tech, and it’s built almost entirely on their flagship search engine. Microsoft has most infamously tried to knock them off that perch with Bing. And Bing has been, largely, a costly disaster. Microsoft loses literally billions a year on their search engine.

Though Bing is widely ridiculed for being a distant second, there is some good news on the horizon. In Q2 2011, Bing lost $543 million against $691 in revenue. In the same time period in 2012, revenues went up again and losses shrunk to $784 million and $459 million, repsectively. And in Q3 2013, it went to $869 millino in revenue with only $283 million lost.

While "only" $283 million in quarterly numbers is hard to stomach, it's clear that Bing is doing something right. And for certain, there are a few features, like Bing Travel, that show promise. In most of their features, Bing is attempting to do what Google does, only better.

The same can't be said for Facebook's "search engine," Facebook Graph. Graph searches within friend networks, using information people have made public with their FB accounts. It might seem to be a small market. But keep in mind that Facebook has personal data on its users Google and Bing are not at all privy to, and this information could be exceedingly valuable.

DISCLOSURE: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors, and do not necessarily represent the views of Readers should not consider statements made by the author as formal recommendations and should consult their financial advisor before making any investment decisions. To read our full disclosure, please go to:

Market Movers

Sponsored Financial Content