This is a guest post by Neil Jones who is head of marketing for eMobileScan.
The search engine wars, where engines fought for domination over their rivals, were only the warm up act for what is likely to take place this year. The undisputed champions of Search and social are inevitably going to lock horns sometime soon.
The ever increasing need to grow, expand and dominate is what is forcing these to internet behemoths to collide and if you haven’t already guessed, it’s Facebook and Google. Both reign supreme in their respective sectors but both want domination and whoever wins it is going to mean a big shift in how we interact with the web.
Let’s take Google first; A couple of years ago their position of power was unquestioned and barring the occasional uprising from either Yahoo or Bing, and then a combination of the two, Google had everything thing their own way. Google are great at a lot of what they do; their search results are usually pretty good, their email is great and Google maps are all an excellent addition to the internet. What they have not been good at is social media, but it’s not from a lack of trying. Wave and Buzz are all failed attempts to move into the social space. I’d say it’s safe to suggest that Google have failed in their attempts to move into social media.
And now for Facebook; The stats about Facebook are jaw dropping and it’s fair to say that they really have dominated in the social sphere. For instance Facebook is now the largest photo sharing site on the net. Before researching I had assumed Flickr was the dominant force here, but seemingly not and there are plenty of other similar examples in the social space where Facebook has crushed the competition.
The one thing that Facebook hasn’t tried yet is to move into the search engine space, but it’s only a matter of time. I believe that they are drawing the battle lines and here is how they are doing it. Going head to head with Google in the search engines would be a crazy so instead they plan to use social connections made by their members to connect the web, interlinking pages and sites with Facebook as the hub.
By building a set of buttons, widgets and plugins they are essentially letting their members spider the internet for them. The first goal is to get as many sites as possible to add their set of buttons and the second is to get their members to share the links and click the “likes” button on these sites.
Presently, Facebook members share in excess of 1 million links in just 20 minutes. In that same timeframe nearly 8 million “likes” are generated, and on average 10k sites a day are adding Facebook’s widgets.
Facebook’s whole plan is based around building a semantic web and with those figures I think they are making a pretty decent start.
The first Sideswipes
Both companies have been trying to undermine each other’s power. The first blow came when Google tried to invest in Facebook only to miss out to Microsoft (Google’s oldest enemy). Facebook countered by continually trying to poach some of Google top execs. Google bought a considerable stake in Zynga who develop social games on the Facebook API and are one of the biggest spenders on the Facebook ad network. Google have also been buying stakes in some of the other companies that have risen to prominence through Facebook. Facebook, on the other hand, announced the launch of the Fcommerce platform where webshops can be launched directly on Facebook. Both sides are continually adjusting and adding new features but who will make the first real assault is still a little unclear.
It’s safe to say that there is no love lost between these two and I don’t think it will be long before we start to see the first real all-out assault on each other’s territory.
What do you think? Are Google and Facebook gearing up for an almighty web-war? Is there space for them both on the Internet, or are they intrinsically destined to fight for the same user base? We’d love to know your thoughts, so please tell us in the comments.