Launch a web browser today, and the first site you visit is most likely either Facebook or Google. Facebook is the king of social network; Google is the king of search. Their dominance in respective fields approaches monopoly, and the fact that these two Internet giants share a core revenue stream, ads, means the tension between them is higher than ever. In this blog post, I will discuss this tension in more detail. This post will be split into two parts. This first part will include the history of this tension and Google’s strategy to win this battle. The second part will contain Facebook’s strategy and how this battle will affect consumers in the end.
First, let’s review a little history. Years ago, Google used to be the undisputed king of the web. Then, in 2010, Facebook surpassed Google as the most visited site worldwide. Obviously, this means trouble for Google and its stream of advertisement revenue. To make the matter worse, Facebook refuses to lend Google the data it needs for its search engine, leading to an infamous statement by Google’s CEO Larry Page, “Facebook is holding users hostage.” To retaliate and stop Facebook’s momental growth, Google launched its own social network, Google+, in 2011. A year later, Google integrated and prioritized Google+ in its search results in a campaign known as “Search Plus Your World.” Facebook, however, has not been resting on its feet. In a partnership with Microsoft, Facebook results and “likes” are integrated into Bing search results, similar to how “Search Plus Your World” works. On the mobile side, Facebook has been working with both Microsoft and Apple to integrate Facebook directly into their mobile operating systems. Google, on the other hand, has been working hard to perfect their mobile operating system, Android, and integrating Google services directly into the system. Needless to say, the tension between Facebook and Google is stronger than ever.
One Google Experience
Google originally started as merely a search engine, but over time, it has grown to become so much more. Indeed, Google wants to be in every part of your life, whether you are checking your E-mail, browsing the Internet, socializing with your friends, using your smartphone, or working on a document. This is not even considering all the media contents available on the Play Store nor the other productivity tools, such as calendar. This is exactly what Google’s strategy, “one Google experience,” is. It not only wants to be in every part of your life; it wants to be able to gather information from those part and better deliver services to you, such as better search results. Google wants you to be able to do everything you need to on the web and never leave Google’s site, as evident in the new universal menu bar on every Google site.
Google’s strategy is a good one; however, obviously, it is not enough to stop Facebook’s momentum. As evident in Facebook becoming the most visited website, people tend to visit social networks online than anything else, including search engines. This is where Google needs to step up its game if it hopes to keep its ads revenue. Google needs to hit Facebook where it hurts; it needs to dethrone Facebook as the king of social networks. Facebook has two major Achilles’ Heels: privacy and mobile service. The social network giant has a bad reputation when it comes to privacy; in fact, there is a Wikipedia page dedicated to it. If Google can implement privacy the right way, it will be able to convince many Facebook users to jump ship and switch to Google+. Another area that Google needs to capitalize is in the mobile space. Facebook has more than half of its users accessing it from a mobile device, yet it has not figured out how to monetize this sector without turning off users with its ads. If Google can get there first, it will be a game changer. In addition to capitalizing these two Achilles’ Heels, Google needs to promote its social network in every way it can. As long-time Facebook users are unlikely to switch to Google+, Google could go after the younger market who has never been contaminated by Facebook. Only by beating Facebook in the social network arena can Google hope to reclaim its title as king of the web.
Here’s part 2 of the article, in which I discussed Facebook’s side of the story and, most importantly, how this battle will ultimately affect us users.