Google, Apple, Facebook, Twitter, Yahoo Sliding into "Personal Assistant" Function, Business

For years, it has  been difficult to "classify" Google. Google says it is a technology company, and with its expanding role in smart phones, tablets, operating systems, its core search business, mobile commerce, navigation and browsers, that certainly is true. 

On the other hand, Google is the paramount example of a big, influential technology company whose revenue stream is based on advertising services. That always throws a monkey wrench into the taxonomy, since historically, "media" firms had that revenue model. 

For other firms, such as Facebook or Twitter, the taxonomy is not quite so difficult. The content those firms "create" might be contributed by users, but there is a reason firms such as Facebook and Twitter are known as "social media." 

They are more recognizably "media."

These days, it also is noted that Apple's Siri, use of mobile devices overall, Twitter and Facebook are "threats" to Google because they are alternate ways for people to "discover or find things." 

In other words, Twitter, Facebook and other apps are challengers to Google as rival ways for people to discover, find or locate content and information that is highly relevant to them.

“When there is too much information, there high value in search, navigation and discovery,” said venture capitalitst Bill Tai

Mobile highlights the changing context of "search," though. As it turns out, what people "search for," in a mobile context, already shows a bias towards commerce: places to go, things to do, places to shop or buy products. That drives local search and mobile commerce

But maybe something else is happening to search as well. Voice search might be more than just "another input option." Maybe it is something more like a "digital personal assistant," allowing people to quickly find answers to questions. 

Yes, that means people use the feature to find things, which is a search or discovery process. But one might argue it is more: a move by a variety of apps, tools and approaches towards a personalized "digital assistant for your life" approach that some have called the "remote control for your life."

In that sense, it would be easier to categorize firms with ad-based revenue models. They all are in the evolving "personal digital assistant" business.

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