The fight between Google and Facebook can at times seem overblown since the core products are quite different. But there’s little doubt Facebook presents the greatest challenge to Google’s Internet hegemony in a way unlike past threats like Yahoo and Microsoft. Time and again, Google has failed in its attempts to make inroads into social — and the Web is undeniably becoming a more social place. Google chairman Eric Schmidt recently acknowledged that he “screwed up” social media during his long run as Google CEO. Ben Elowitz, chief executive of online publishing company Wetpaint, picks up on this theme in contributed piece on TechCrunch that boldly, if hyperbolically, predicts Facebook will put Google out of business. It all comes back to the data, of course:
Facebook’s data allows it to do more than just guess what its customers might be interested in; the company’s data can help it know with greater certainty what its customers are really interested in. And this key difference could potentially give Facebook a tremendous advantage in search when it eventually decides to move in that direction. If Google’s business has been built on choosing which Web pages, out of all those in the universe, are most likely to appeal to any given (but anonymous) query string, think about this: Facebook already knows, for the most part, which pages appeal to whom — specifically and directly. And, even more powerfully, Facebook knows each of our individual and collective behavior patterns well enough to predict what we’ll like even without us expressing our intent.
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