Soundview Executive Book Summaries


Apple vs Google vs Amazon vs Facebook

This month Fast Company published an issue with an extensive article on the competition between Apple, Google, Amazon and Facebook, and they did it in an innovative way. They actually published four separate covers, each one declaring why one of the companies will win. I got the one declaring Google the winner, perhaps because I’m on the east coast (if the cover distribution was geographical). The latest Fortune magazine issue also depicts Larry Page of Google and Mark Zuckerberg of Facebook fighting it out martial-arts-style on the cover.

The competition between these four companies is definitely heating up as each reaches more and more into the others’ traditional territories. The lines are now blurred as all four companies fight for a larger share of the dollars and time of the world’s population.

In celebration of this epic battle, I thought it would be enlightening to look at the business books being written about each company and its founders.

Apple – we should begin with Apple because Steve Jobs by Walter Isaacson is projected to be the best-selling book on Amazon for 2011 even though it was just released in October. Jobs has had many books written about him – in fact my count shows as many books about Steve Jobs as have been written about Google, or about Amazon and Facebook combined. We just published the summary of The Steve Jobs Way by Jay Elliot, a Senior VP under Jobs at Apple. And Inside Steve’s Brain by Leander Kahney has received a lot of attention as well. Really, Apple can’t be separated from Steve Jobs when it comes to covering their success over the years and probably well into the future.

Google In the Plex is the latest book about Google, and was written by Wired’s technical journalist Steven Levy. This book is on Amazon’s top 10 list of best sellers for 2011 as well. Among the other top books is The Search by John Battelle, and of course the obligatory The Google Way by Bernard Girard. You haven’t really made it until you have a “The ____Way” book written about you or your company.

Facebook – We get a little thin here with only a handful of books about Facebook or its founder Mark Zuckerberg. There is The Facebook Effect by David Kirkpatrick and The Accidental Billionaires by Ben Mezrich. But Zuckerberg makes up for this poor showing by being the only one of the four company founders to have a movie made about him called The Social Network. Note: there is no The Facebook Way book yet, which may or may not be a prediction of their future success.

Amazon – For a company that started out selling books, they haven’t had much written about them or their founder Jeff Bezos. One Click: Jeff Bezos and the Rise of Amazon by Richard Brandt describes the basic and simple premise of the company – make it easy for people to buy. Other titles about Amazon include Amazon.com by Robert Spector and Inside the Giant Machine by Kalpanik S., a pen-name for a former employee of Amazon.

So if you’re watching this tech battle and would like to read up on the companies, I hope this will get you started. I’m sure there will be many more books to come in the future as the fight continues.

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