Sunday, May 15, 2011

Google vs Facebook: What?

Articles have been floating around that suggest Google and Facebook are fighting one another. This always seemed bizarre, an apples-vs-oranges comparison.

Google is where I get information and check my e-mail. Facebook is where I make plans and look at funny pictures from the past weekend. These are completely separate domains. Occasionally, one company tries to bleed over into the role of the other (Buzz), and it has failed dramatically. They can't compete; they work in parallel.

Not only do the two work in separate domains, they work with completely different metrics. Google works to reduce user time; Facebook works to increase it. The longer users spend on Facebook, the more value it has. The less time a user spends on Google, the better Google has done as a search engine.

The fact of the matter is, if Facebook vanished tomorrow, I'd be sad about losing pictures posted from college and before. Then, I'd proceed with my life, increased productivity, and general sense of greater well-being.

If Google vanished tomorrow, my life would be in complete disarray. Over the years, I've migrated my e-mail, documents, and calendar to their services. Combine that with the fact that if I had to go back to Firefox, I'd be a cranky bastard.

Facebook is ineffectual. Sure, I use it a lot, because there's a lot of people there and its well-designed. On the other hand, my life is built around Google.

What are they supposed to be fighting over, exactly? The social graph? Ooh. Steve is friends with Joe. What does that even mean? They're probably not friends. In all likelihood, they're just acquaintances. What does that mean? Nothing.

How about advertisers? I don't care about advertising where ever I go. I never click it. Under most circumstances, it merely shrinks the content area of a site, making it harder to read.

Perhaps the clear cause for this "struggle" emerged last week. Facebook, apparently, hired a PR firm to spread anti-Google messages. This likely extends beyond this incident. The entire fight was likely contrived by PR firms. Once they got the ball rolling, bloggers and the news itself would keep it going. Being a Googlekiller is good for a company evaluation, allowing you to raise more capital and build more product. It's not quite fraud, but in the spirit of fraud.