It's always hard to be part of the Tech Industry: it's competitive, it's fast, it's changing, it need knowledge.. And I've come to wonder: would it be a strategy from Google to arrive late in the game?!
Let me give you some examples:
- Search: it was the first step in the big cloud that was not so big back in the days (but was hard to find anything because it was so clunky), but now it has grown like crazy. Google arrived with a different approach and it worked, simple but efficient.
- Emails: second step : communication. Again, Google is not the first on that, but they actually make their product and evolve it with time, solving problems that other would have and did not thought it was worth fixing: hotmail dealing with spam is not the only example, but it's the most obvious.
- Docs: I was not so "early-adopter" back in the days, but I started to use Google Docs from 2006 (that's amazing how much data you can find from early days) and here again, they pushed the technology to next step and let you deal with docs, sheets, slides and more, from anywhere, bring collaboration and simplify the use at the same time, all that for free. I think that Microsoft, that was the main player before all that, has just started to pivote.. which, after 10 years, means you missed the boat.. but based on so much data lost, the inability to have your own products able to open your own files, you wont be missed (you havent since I left you)
- Mobile: Apple has been the one starting the deployment of smart-phones to the non-techy people. But after few years of new iDevices, they seems to lack evolution, while on the other side, Google is joining the race and is now doing better phones and way better OS thanks to Android. With the Play Store offering a simpler way of browsing and consuming digital content, and a design that evolve slightly but continuously, Android doesn't envy anything to iOS anymore.
- Social: and here's another example, while FB has been messing around for 10 years, G+ is becoming more and more busy, not only it does what FB does, but it does it in a more reliable way, with a better UI, more features, and putting together all their services, while FB is fragmenting more and more its messengers and platforms, and trying to keep up with Hangouts' video chat with 10 people or voice calls (integration of Google Voice)
I'm pretty sure there's more examples (Chromebooks and Chromecasts are getting bigger as we speak, and it's only the beginning, VR, Glass, all those are quite geeky still but give it another few years and we'll talk about that again ;), but those are the main steps I have noticed.
In conclusion, it's not so much "first arrived, first served", but really who offers the best and easiest experience to its users... And for that, Google seems to be the best, design, flexibility and improvements will always bring your products to the top.. as long as you can iterate!