Google has changed how we search the web and the company has been constantly innovating search. Apart from search it has come up with (or acquired) very successful products like – Gmail, Chrome Browser, Android, Google Docs, Orkut and many more.
Google’s hiring practices consist of bringing in top computer scientists from best schools like Stanford. The culture has been thriving and delivering great products so far.
The only area Google is lacking is ‘Social Networks’ (and everybody is talking about it right now on the web). Google’s attempts to get into mainstream ‘social’ have been largely unsuccessful with – Orkut, DodgeBall, Buzz, Wave etc. They are a company which keeps innovating and there is already ‘Google Me’ in the queue which supposedly could be the Facebook killer!
Why Google needs to worry about Facebook?
Facebook is really a cool social network but there are 100s of social networks around the globe. Why Facebook is the one that is so concerning google?
- Google runs on page-rank. A presumption that internet is a web of HTML links. Their search is built around this. The game is changing. Now, Internet is becoming more of a stream of updates from your friends than a web of pages. Now, It is a web of people!
- Google is great at technology, no doubts but what matters more is people. Facebook is closer to people than what Google is!
- There are alternative search engines and they work pretty well, if not great. So, there is no reason why people won’t be able to switch their search provider – All they are looking for is information.
- Facebook is hard to switch as all the friends are there, great apps, likes and interests and much more things that defines identity of a person.
- Facebook is a ‘Social Platform’ company and they have no shortcomings that can’t be met by partnering with platform developer like Zynga. Google doesn’t have this unique capability.
- The fact that google is doubling salary and letting them lead the teams for the engineers leaving to Facebook is alarming. This makes it evident that Facebook is the future of Internet in Google’s view and fear of it results into irrational decisions.
- Google doesn’t have a social context and approach. They are focused on search and the web is changing and so is the search.
- Partnership of Microsoft Bing with Facebook hurts Google in a big way. They couldn’t foresee this opportunity in the past. Now, Bing is grabbing search arising from Facebook and helping Bing grow their traffic. Google has no access to 500+ million users of Facebook as Bing sits right there!
- The biggest reason why Google needs to worry is time spent by users on Facebook is 3 times the time spent on Google. Following graph demonstrates the same. People giving more time to Facebook and making it more valuable proposition overall!
- Facebook is not just a website. They extend beyond it with Facebook Connect and brings ‘Social Web’ to any 3rd party service. In essence, They are making the whole web more open and social!
- People are generating a ton of content using Facebook and other social networks like twitter. Google has no or very limited control over this vast content. Thus making Google handicapped.
Why is Google not able to innovate in Social Web?
This is an interesting puzzle and here is how I look at it:
- Google has not given serious attention to ‘Social Web’ and they thought Facebook is just another social network and assumed that their growth will stop at certain point. But that has not happened and now they’ve been a threat to Google itself.
- Google’s products save time and are result oriented. The ‘Social Networks’ are about ‘wasting more time’ in a fun way. Google’s philosophy of making great and efficient products doesn’t go well with Social Products.
- Google has been focused on search and it is best at it. It is generating a ton of revenues for Google. So, Google was not concerned about making web more social.
The only thing that can make google go social is ‘Google Me’. This is a pretty interesting and serious attempt by Google per some ‘sources’ on Quora. Let’s look forward to it and see what it brings to the table!
What do you guys think about Facebook and Google – who will win in the long-term?
Looking forward to your comments.