Google vs. Facebook
The minute Facebook established itself as the social networking site, Google should have known it had missed a giant opportunity. Even while MySpace was flourishing, it didn’t have the brand recognition or reputability of Google – and in swept Facebook, taking over social and irreversibly changing the face of the Internet. And since then, Google’s been scrambling to fight back.
Social media consultant Andrew David Baron told us that Google will have to fight the standards Facebook has set to become a notable contender. “Apple made a whole, entire genre with the iPad and iPhone…it’s the same thing with social media,” he explains. “[Google needs to] do something and do something quick.”
The birth and death of Google Me
We all remember the disaster of Google Buzz’s debut. The social layer, introduced in 2010, resulted in little more than mass confusion and $8.5 million in lawsuits for Google. In short, it’s one of the more poorly executed Google products and definitely wasn’t an able Facebook competitor. A previous attempt, Orkut, is barely worth mentioning. It does remain popular in India and parts of South America, however it was laughable to other markets.
Google’s been prepping a social platform for some time now, though, something to at least challenge Facebook as we would understand. In September, then-CEO Eric Schmidt said we could expect something in the social arena by the end of the year. Clearly, that’s come and gone, and all we’ve gotten are a few screen shots, some internal code names, and possibly the first glimpse at what’s going to be a very light, layered approach to social. Some might even say indistinguishable.
Of course, Google has been investing more of its time and money into its geo-social, local applications. So maybe it’s just a matter of switching gears, but as Facebook starts to tread on some longstanding Google territory (ahem, firstname.lastname@example.org) we have to imagine an effective social platform is in the works.
Facebook refuses to share and share alike
When Schmidt first began talking about Google’ social networking product, he pointedly said if Facebook weren’t willing to enter into a two-way sharing option with Google, the company would find other ways to get the information. Well, up until now Facebook hasn’t relinquished the user info, Google hasn’t found a way to extract it, and in return has tried to take its own data away from the world’s largest social network (which, if you remember, Facebook found a loophole to get around).
As a last measure in the user-data battle, Google simply issued a message to users trying to export their Gmail data to Facebook. Titled “Trap my contacts now,” the note pressures readers to keep from putting their information into a place that won’t give it back, and to allow Google to register a complaint over the issue on their behalf. Google all but pulls the “cough, Facebook, cough” move here.
There’s been no progress on the matter, and users can and do still import their Gmail contacts into Facebook – and Facebook appears to have no interest in returning the favor. Just to add insult to injury, Facebook recently announced it will require developers to create apps with Facebook-approved advertisers only. You guessed it: Google-owned AdSense and Double Click didn’t make the list.
And this particular race has long term consequences. “Facebook has so many users with so much data that is doesn’t even need Google anymore…what’s going to happen is Facebook is going to become its own micro-search engine and then people will go into Facebook and just stay there.” It’s scary to think that the social network could eventually best Google at its own game.
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