Whose turn is it next?
A look into five major Internet companies
October 15, 2015
When it comes to the Internet world, it seems that the same big names are always thrown around. It all started with Microsoft Windows. But, these days you turn one corner and Facebook is up to something. You turn another and Amazon is launching a new service. All of a sudden, Apple hits the market with an upgraded product and Google’s innovation is all over the headlines.
Have these five companies monopolized the Internet? When one does something, it’s not long before the others follow suit. Do they copy each other or just happen to have the same great ideas simultaneously?
Let’s look at some of the biggest Internet breakthroughs and see how these companies swept the market.
Remember how much of a hassle it is when you don’t have exact cash to pay your friend back for lunch? Online and mobile payment services hit it big when they figured out how to solve this problem.
Where it got started…
1999: PayPal launched as a money transfer service in 1999. It was a great way to send and receive payments electronically between individuals and businesses on websites like eBay. On September 1, 2015, PayPal made peer to peer payments more convenient and less formal with personal PayPal.me links.
2006: Google jumped in next with Google Checkout in June 2006. However, Google Checkout was replaced by Google Wallet in 2011. This service is for in-store and online payments. You can also use it to send money directly to another person.
In 2011, PayPal sued Google for stealing employees and trade secrets that led to the launch of Google Wallet.
2009: The popular mobile payment service Venmo was released in 2009. Used mostly by college students and young professionals for its integration with social media, Venmo makes it easy to send money to anyone who has an account.
Braintree bought Venmo. EBay, PayPal’s owner, bought Braintree. Thus, Venmo became part of PayPal in 2013.
2014: A few years later, Apple decided it was time to make its mark. Apple Pay was released in October 2014. Simply take a picture of your credit card to store the information on your phone. Then, use Apple Pay at stores like McDonald’s and Macy’s. Forget physical credit cards all together.
2015: A bit late to the game, Facebook gave all users the option to make personal payments through Facebook Messenger in 2015. It’s simple. Add your debit card information to send money straight from your account to your friend’s.
We have to give credit for music streaming to the radio. But, the music streaming industry was revolutionized when it met the Internet.
1999: Founded as a way to share MP3 files, Napster was released in 1999. It was the first company to introduce the idea of a massive market of free MP3s. But, Napster’s music sharing service succumbed to lawsuits in 2001.
2000: A twist to traditional radio, Pandora rolled out its personal radio stations in 2000.
2001: The first on-demand music streaming service available for a monthly fee was Rhapsody. Rhapsody offered unlimited access to its digital music library. In less than a year, Rhapsody’s database included music from the 5 biggest record labels of the time. The service still has 2.5 million paying subscribers.
Rhapsody acquired what was left of Napster in 2011.
2011: After years in Sweden, Spotify entered the U.S. market in 2011. Unlike Napster, it was able to succeed in the music streaming industry. Spotify’s library has 25 million songs, and you can upgrade to enjoy music without ads for a monthly fee. However, Spotify artists make very little royalties. Taylor Swift withdrew from Spotify saying, “Music is art, and art is important and rare. Important, rare things are valuable. Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free.”
2011: The first of the big Internet companies to jump on the music streaming bandwagon was Google. With Google Play Music, non-subscribing users can listen to up to 50,000 songs at no cost. Paying subscribers in 58 countries get access to more than 30 million tracks to purchase or stream.
2014: Amazon Prime was created in 2005, but in 2014, the Amazon Prime Music feature was introduced. Like the others, users can get unlimited access to over a million songs.
2015: While iTunes has been available since 2001, Apple didn’t want to fall behind its competition. Apple Music launched in June 2015. To set itself apart, Apple crossed streaming with social media to create Connect, a platform where artists can share media and interact with fans.
As for cloud and file hosting storage, it’s the same picture. First came Microsoft’s OneDrive in 2007, followed by Dropbox in 2008. Google Cloud Storage launched in 2010, and other big companies like Amazon and Apple rolled out their cloud services in 2011.
Although Apple fell behind the cloud storage game, they hit the finish line first with Artificial Intelligence Virtual Assistants. Siri started asking, “What can I help you with?” on the iPhone in October 2011. It wasn’t until 3 years later that another competitor entered the ranks. Microsoft’s Cortana was initially released in April 2014. Amazon Echo, aka Alexa, was introduced to the public in June 2015. Facebook launched their own take on virtual assistants, called M, in August 2015. However, instead of just answering questions or playing music, Facebook’s M can complete basic tasks such as scheduling a restaurant reservation.
The big five
One after another, these companies take turns dominating Internet-based industries. Once one service becomes increasingly popular, you can expect Microsoft, Google, Apple, Amazon or Facebook to wiggle its way in. It’s a cycle that has been happening for years. And, it probably won’t stop any time soon.