Re: Is it worth it for the business
"I don't like Google but I will give them credit for being very very successfull. I can't even begin to imagine what it would take to knock them of their pedestal.."
In the mobile world I can. To generate ever increasing earnings that US investors believe are their birthright, Google needs to become ever more intrusive and pushy. At the moment most people are relaxed about the balance between Google's push adverts, and the benefits of a "free" and pretty good phone OS. But all that needs to happen to change the world is that (a) a new, free or near free OS comes along (not today, but maybe one day Sailfish, Ubuntu, Firefox or something from far, far away) and offers equivalent functionality at a lower "cost", and (b) Google needs to over cook the afverts or personal data use. Neither of those are guaranteed, but neither are far-fetched.
Taking that a bit further, if I am the product, then perhaps the world is slowly changing and a bit of free software will no longer be sufficient price. Google would then have to cash subsidise their software, maybe even pay people monthly to use it. Sounds a lot more far fetched, and maybe there's a compromise, where they make real content available for free. So instead of paywalls, Google users get free access to news content, but WinPho or Apple users are barred (or need to install Google spyware on their platform). Likewise MS or Apple owned content. In some respects this might complete the digital publishing revolution - in the days of print, we effectively paid the physical costs of the publications, and the intellectual costs and margin came from advertising sales. With marginal distribution costs now negligible, the advertisers would give me the content for free in return for me receiving their adverts. A bit like the "free" commercial TV model, or Spotify "free". Not sure that their force fed commercials interrupting me are the future model (or I hope not), but I'd see more that Google would have the ability to feed me the ads much as they do now, but doing more for me (otherwise they offer an open goal to Firefox).
The other threat to Google is similar, but emerges as software agnostic phone makers. In which case the current crop of Android makers start to offer the same hardware with competing OS. Maybe you'd have to pay for an ad free OS, but there might well be a market. Google could threaten to withhold some aspects of Android despite it's nominal "open source", but the makers have the immediate option of WinPho.
Despite the pre-eminence of Android, there's no guarantee that they can exploit that customer base, given that the market is accustomed to changing handsets every two years.