THE GOOGLE INVESTOR: Google Tackling Competition On All Fronts

The Google Investor is a daily report from TBI Research. Sign up here to receive it by email.

footballtackleap112508

GOOG Falls In Weak Market
The stock is down $7 today to below $547 as fears about Greek debt resurface. GOOG trades at approximately 18x 2010 EPS and 17x Enterprise Value / EBIT.  While Google’s search business continues to recover from the recession and will probably drive solid growth for the balance of the year, investors are concerned with increasing costs and lack of a second growth engine. Potential catalysts include Android and mobile adoption as well as benchmarks surrounding newer initiatives, which up until now have mostly been disappointing.

News Corp Possibly Going After Google’s Display Business (All Things D)
Kara Swisher At All Things D reports that News Corp. is tinkering with selling it’s advertising unit, Fox Audience Network. The strategy is to give Google a run for it’s money in the display business with the ultimate goal of challenging Google’s ad-buying power. In order to do so, News Corp. would either roll up ad networks or exchanges or pull them into an alliance. While still in the early stages, an independent company could mean a more viable opponent on the display side for Google.

Google Couldn’t Buy Yelp, So It’s Going To Try And Kill It (Google)
As Yelp walked away from a half a billion dollar Google bid earlier this year, Google announced “Google Places” with more tools for local businesses to have a stronger presence. As “one out of five searches on Google are related to location,” the company wants businesses to be found easier on Google. Jay Yarow at Business Insider believes the objective here is to pick up more ad revenue from all these businesses by giving them a place to send people who click on Google search ads. New features include: service area, new advertising feature (“Tags”), free photos, customised QR codes and more favourite places.

Google Set To Take On Benioff’s Salesforce.com In The Cloud For Services (Business Insider)
With Google’s Marketplace announcement last week, it looks like the search giant is officially taking on one of the most successful SaaS (Software as a Service) companies, Salesforce.com. The biggest competitive advantage for Google is pricing. Investment officers at small- to mid-sized businesses are going to wonder why they are paying 8 to 15 times more for a customer relationship management (CRM) solution, when they can get the whole enchilada (email, calendar, talk, video, etc.) for pennies on the dollar. Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff needs to watch his back.

Microsoft And Facebook Team Up To Take On Google Docs (Business Insider)
Microsoft is introducing Docs.com, an online version of Microsoft’s Office software (it’s about time). According to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg, you’ll be able to share documents on Facebook with your friends. Jay Yarow at Business Insider points out that the collaboration of course is to take on Google Docs. Google’s online answer to Microsoft Office, while still tiny right now, poses a big threat long-term.

Google In Talks To Buy Travel Search Engine, ITA Software
(Bloomberg)

rumours are circling that Google is in talks to purchase ITA Software for about $1 billion. ITA Software is an airfare search and pricing system which is used by travel companies such as Orbitz, Kayak.com and CheapTickets. The move would help Google take on Bing Travel, Microsoft’s travel offering, in aiding users with travel information. The online travel market in the U.S. generated nearly $90 billion in sales last year according to PhoCusWright Inc.

E-Commerce Trends Continue To Be Positive; No One Knows Or Cares Google Is Selling A Mobile Phone (MKM Partners)
MKM Partners surveyed retailers and found that overall shopping and spending trends continue to increase. This is inline with Rory Maher’s findings at TBI Research as the holiday strength has continued into the first quarter. Awareness regarding Google Checkout has grown to 38% versus 35% in January with a slightly larger number of consumers using the purchasing tool. That said, as the Nexus One hype died down, so did awareness with only 27% of all online shoppers aware that Google is selling its own phone. Only 10% are interested in purchasing the mobile device. Time to get more carriers on board.

Google Trying Hard To Win Over iPhone App Developers (The New York Times)
Google is reaching out to (possibly disgruntled) iPhone app developers. One developer was recently contacted by Google’s Android Advocacy Group asking if assistance was needed in converting apps from the iPhone OS to Android.  Will this approach work for Google? It certainly won’t hurt. But if Google really wants to win over developers it needs to tweak its Android Market, and make it a better place for developers to make money.

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.