Google is an internet titan - the clear choice for searching the web, the simplest way to buy ads, or earn money from others' ads, the best way to find directions and search the globe, the best way to email and collaborate in the cloud. It's also a great way to find images of any kind, news, books, and more. It's the maker of a popular web browser and even a popular open source mobile device platform.
Just to name a few things that Google does.
But Facebook, the social network born out of a Harvard University dorm originally exclusive to Harvard students, is hot on Google's tail.
The social network offers its 500 million users myriad ways to communicate with each other - instant messaging, text messaging, walls, "likes," comments, and even emails now - in addition to its numerous other services, like photo and video uploading, and groups, events, and fanpages for any service, product, campaign, company, or celebrity.
Just to name a few things that Facebook does.
They're not direct competitors, though, but in some ways they are - Facebook and Google both use advertising to dominate sky-high revenues, and they both want to be vast hubs for information and social engagement. Quoth The Province:
While Google delivers search results selected by algorithms that take into account a user’s Web history, Facebook boasts a richer level of personalisation based on one’s own "likes" and the recommendations of Facebook friends.
Mark Zuckerberg, who founded Facebook in his Harvard University dorm room six years ago and is now worth an estimated 6.9 billion dollars, refers to it as the "social graph".
"I think what we’ve found is that when you can use products with your friends and your family and the people you care about they tend to be more engaging," Mark once said in a TV interview.
"The social graph is incredibly broad," Wedbush Securities social media analyst Lou Kerner told media recently. "It includes not only what you do and what you like but people you know and what they like and the companies you interact with. I refer to Facebook as the second Internet, maybe more valuable than the first because we’re all interconnected on it. Social media is an increasingly important part of how you reach people and it’s a growing part of every marketer’s budget. The idea is you do not want to fight Facebook, you want to embrace Facebook and leverage Facebook because this is where people are going to spend increasing amounts of time."
According to online tracking firm comScore, Google receives more unique monthly visitors than Facebook but visitors to Facebook spend more time at the site than they do on Google properties.
Since this spring, Facebook has been rolling out features which put it on a collision course with Google - a facebook.com email service which competes with Google’s Gmail and "Facebook Questions," a search engine of sorts which lets Facebook members ask questions and get answers from other members.
Facebook has also been facing off with Google on the hiring front, forcing the Mountain View, California-based Google to recently raise salaries by 10 percent across the board.
"They’ve become competitive in some areas, but it’s not that Facebook has grown at Google’s expense or that Facebook is growing and Google is shrinking," Danny Sullivan, editor of technology blog SearchEngineLand.com, told media recently.
"Google is not going away," agrees Lou. "Google, in fact, I think is going to benefit from the emergence of social media. Because what it’s doing is it’s driving people to spend more time online and when you’re spending more time online, you end up doing more searches."
"Where they’ve really been encroaching on each other more is in the display space," affirms Danny. "Facebook has a lot of people who buy display advertising. Google wants to sell more display advertising." Google "has been trying to encroach on their social area, but they haven’t been very successful."
Mark, in his TV interview, acknowledged that "there are areas where the companies compete." But, he added, "there are all these areas where we just don’t compete at all."
"Some of it plays very well for Google," Danny belives. "It’s not necessarily to Google’s disadvantage that Facebook is growing."