Google Should Be Terrified Of These 12 Startups

The history of Pinterest

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Google is in a pretty good position right now.It’s by a very wide margin the best search engine on the market, and it’s charging into other spaces like payments and music.

But those sectors are ripe for disruption, and all it takes is a good idea from a startup to knock Google — which can’t move as quickly as a nimble startup — off its pedestal.

We asked a bunch of investors and industry sources where they think Google is at risk for disruption. It turns out Google is much more vulnerable than we thought. 

Even search isn’t sacred any more, with some startups going after Google right where it hurts.

Quora nailed the question-and-answer engine.

Whenever a user comes to Google to search for something, odds are it's because they have a question.

Except, Google isn't necessarily optimised for questions -- it's optimised for keywords.

Quora is optimised for questions and has a massive knowledge base of answers for questions.

Square is going to kill Google Wallet.

Google has dabbled a few times with near-field communication and payments via Google Wallet.

But Pay With Square is an app that doesn't even require special technology -- it works with existing technology, and you still don't have to pull out your wallet.

Consider Google Wallet down for the count with Pay With Square on top.

DuckDuckGo is a solid alternative to Google Search.

DuckDuckGo definitely hasn't come close to Google in terms of throughput that Google has, but the growth curve of the site is still really attractive.

DuckDuckGo has the advantage over Google of not storing and sharing data.

AppNexus is about to steal Google's advertising market.

AppNexus serves as the 'plumbing' for the display advertising market.

While Google serves a ton of ads, AppNexus could easily sideswipe Google and take over the display advertising market.

That's part of Google's bread and butter and would hit them right where it hurts.

Spotify is way better than Google's music service.

Google Music has pretty much been a bit of a bust because it's trying to be kind of like iTunes, while Spotify and other streaming music services are showing that times have definitely changed.

In the move to the subscription music economy, Spotify has emerged as a pretty clear leader.

Path has a cleaner mobile experience than Google Plus.

Larry Page is obsessed with social, but he let Mark Zuckerberg beat him to the punch when Facebook bought Instagram for about $1 billion. He hasn't quite gotten social right.

Google's Google Plus website at first seemed more like a Facebook competitor. While Google Plus served more like Facebook Connect than an actual social networking site, the website was a pretty clear shot at Facebook.

But Google has also spent a ton of time on its mobile version of Google Plus, which shows that they are still pretty interested in making a clean mobile experience. Except, Path is a much, much better user experience than Google Plus is.

Google also did try to buy Path at one point, but the company turned the offer down.

Google needs to buy Pinterest to fix its video discovery problem.

Google will soon have to face a pretty difficult decision -- buy Pinterest or let a competitor come in and sweep what would be a pure solution to its video discovery problem away.

Pinterest is emerging as a clear, important component for Google's discovery engine. It needs to integrate it or risk losing out on a massive opportunity.

Chartbeat's real-time analytics are better than Google Analytics.

Google Analytics is a very powerful tool for tracking your website's performance, but it's still pretty lacking in the real-time analytics sector.

Chartbeat, by comparison, is one of the best real-time analytics services out there. Google has tried to build its own real-time analytics, but it just hasn't come to match Chartbeat yet.

Now Chartbeat is expanding to provide more powerful analytics for retailers and other larger websites, so it's only a matter of time before it starts encroaching even more on Google's turf.

OnLive is another approach to streaming an operating system, like Chrome.

Google is trying to make its own web-based application by making a lightweight browser and accessing relevant content in the form of web pages.

That does include some higher quality apps too -- you can play Angry Birds in the Chrome browser.

But OnLive is taking a different approach, and instead of a gimped version of a mobile operating system, OnLive can stream a full version of Windows through the web. It can stream Xbox 360-quality games, too.

So much for Chromebooks.

SayHi is a better version of Google Translate.

Google Translate was the gold standard for translation services for a while.

That is, until SayHi finally landed on the app store. It's basically like Siri, except it translates whatever language you are speaking into another language and plays it back in that new language.

It still has a few kinks to work out (like detecting the right words), but right now it's probably the best translation app out right now.

Sparrow (and pretty much every other email app in existence) are killing Gmail ads.

Apps like Sparrow are great because they streamline your inbox and make it easier to read your mail. That includes synchronizing your Gmail accounts.

Unfortunately for Google, that means it's losing out on advertisements that you would see if you visit Gmail through a web browser. If Sparrow continues gaining traction, Google is basically going to have no ad revenue left from its Gmail visits.

SocialCam has a shot at disrupting YouTube.

This is probably a ways out, but if SocialCam goes the way of Instagram, there may no longer be a need for a web portal that hosts video like YouTube.

Instead, videos will be shared socially and organically, without the need to actually search for videos on a site like YouTube. Anything relevant will just show up in your SocialCam feed.

BONUS: Yelp is still a huge threat to Google.

Yelp isn't exactly a startup any more, but it has one of the largest review databases for just about any kind of service across the country.

Google bought Zagat in 2011 to expand its own presence as a resource for reviews, but Yelp is still option one. If Google doesn't pick up the pace, it's at risk of losing out completely to Yelp.

Google is also working on some pretty weird projects...

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