The Fresh Egg blog
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So Google and Facebook are quickly becoming mortal enemies; as Google attempts to encroach on Facebook’s social networking territory with the introduction of Google Buzz – a way of turning Googlemail’s 150million plus users into an impressive wealth of shared personal and social information.
That’s not the only shot fired in Facebook’s direction by Google either; recently announcing that they have bought out the social media networking site ‘Aardvark’, which allows you to tap into the knowledge of people in your network, according to their marketing spiel.
So, round one to Google you might think, but don’t count Facebook out just yet. Their first counter-punch came from their acquisition of FriendFeed – a social platform that is arguably superior to the ever popular Twitter. Admittedly it won’t have anywhere near the number of users as Twitter, but it’s not users Facebook is after; it’s the technology, the people and the engineering talent bought to the table by FriendFeed’s impressive collection of ex-Google engineers. The search technology utilised by the site allows for a powerful, real-time search and it’s no coincidence that Facebook announced their new real-time search engine on the day of the FriendFeed acquisition.
So which should we be using, and for what exactly? Google is the most visited website in the UK (receiving 8.96% of UK traffic, compared to Facebook's 6.81%)* and is currently still the best way to search for the things you’re looking for. Similarly, Facebook is the place to go for banter, fun and sharing information with your friends. But this clear divide is slowly disappearing and it’s becoming more and more apparent that Google could have some serious competition on their hands, particularly when it comes to real-time and social searching.
Google has always been the most powerful, useful, outstanding tool for finding information online for such a long time now that it has begun to seep into our public consciousness; we no longer search it, we google it. But the real question now is whether Google can continue that dominance in a whole new world of technological advancements. Many people argue that Google is no longer representative of the way we will use and interact with technology in the future – and I think it’s fair to say that Google are starting to realise this too. Take their extremely aggressive marketing of their Android smartphone; Google are realising that mobile browsing is the key to winning this war in the future. With the Facebook application on the iPhone for example, it can tell Facebook who you’re friends with, where you are in the world (through GPS), who you’re with, what you’re doing and a host of other contextual information gained through Facebook’s myriad of communication routes, coupled with the power of a mobile browser.
Let’s just take a second to consider what this means; Facebook can sell individually targeted advertising spaces based on real time, behavioural analysis. They can tell what we’re doing, where we are and what we’re planning on spending – a section of advertising revenue that currently Google can only hope to achieve. Facebook can give advertisers direct access to your personal data and it’s this that Google is trying to get in on with their launch of Google Buzz and the Android phone. They’re behind in the game, and they know it.
I can already hear people disagreeing with me here but lets’ break this down a little more; there are approximately 15-18 million British people accessing the internet via their mobile phones, with around 5 million directly accessing the mobile Facebook application. That’s drastically more than Google receives from mobile browsing and it’s just the tip of the iceburg – 3G coverage in Europe and the UK is set only to increase and with mobile browsers and smartphones becoming ever more affordable, we can only expect Facebook’s mobile activity to increase substantially.
There is indeed more bad news for Google when you consider Facebook’s utilisation of Bing for their web search results – it’s a feasible eventuality that Facebook’s social and real-time web search will end up on Yahoo! (which is already about to serve Bing results). That’s a dangerous outcome for Google, particularly if they are unable to compete on the mobile browsing market.
But it’s not all bad for Google, the one thing they absolutely have over Facebook is their bank balance; estimated to be well in excess of $20 billion dollars. Facebook can’t hope to come close to this kind of money in the short-term, and that gives Google a distinct advantage. $20 billion can go a long, long way in a battle for domination of the internet, and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Google flex their financial muscles in an attempt to halt the Facebook march on their territory.
So it looks set to be an interesting fight between what is rapidly becoming the two favourites for interweb supremacy. Yes, I use Google to search and Facebook for banter, but that could all be set to change depending on how the digital battle plays out. I for one am excited to see the results.