The gap is not very wide, with US Internet users spending nearly 10 percent of their time, or about 41.1 million minutes, on Facebook alone, compared to 9.6 percent of their time, or almost 40 million minutes, on all of Google’s sites combined. The list includes Gmail and YouTube. It’s unclear whether Google Reader was counted, since not all Web analytics firms include the online RSS feed aggregator in their numbers.
This is a reversal from last year, when users spent less than 5 percent of their Web time on Facebook, compared to 12 percent on Google properties.
Yahoo was third, taking up 9.1 percent of user’s online time. Facebook surpassed Yahoo for the first time in July.
While Facebook fans and Google detractors will gleefully trumpet these numbers, it’s not really surprising that people will rather look at pictures of friends, work on a virtual farm, or bombard friends with minute details of their day instead of looking for information. Granted, YouTube is a time-sink, especially those cat videos, but the majority of Google properties are somehow related to search and practical, whether it’s looking for patents, comparison shopping, perusing academic journals, or displaying selected passages in books. Google-stalking your high school crush is a more diffuse process, one that has you traipsing across multiple sites, in comparison to Facebook-stalking.
However, that’s not to deny that Facebook has been growing by leaps and bounds this year. Less than a month ago, Alexa projected Facebook will surpass Google in terms of unique visitors per day in 18 months. Facebook also hit a major milestone in March this year when it had more overall traffic than Google for a solid week.
Despite the wealth of information available online, everyone knows the Internet is just one big playground, which explains why Google is exploring developing its own social networking site.