Thursday, March 19, 2009

Could Facebook Eclipse Google?

Commenting on an RBC analysis, Barron's reports that Facebook could pose a major threat to Google. While both are great sites, I don't envision that to be a problem. First, today Google is making money, lots of it, and Facebook has none. Google is first and foremost about search and Facebook is about social interactions. Competitive no, complimentary, yes.

What Facebook is poised to become is more of an entry point for emails to friends, IMing and other types of immediate communication, and yes even a bit of twittering. But where Facebook is poised to excel is not search but in navigation and recommendation. With so much content to be consumed, Facebook enables you to recommend sites and videos to others and others to you. Interestingly, "according to a note from AdAge that Sandler refers to, Facebook is now directing more traffic to some key Websites than does Google, implying that over time, Facebook could eclipse Google’s function as a directory for the Web for some significant portion of computer users."

A friend recently recommended a NYT article that I had missed. That recommendation allowed me to quickly click on her link and check out the article. Another friend recently recommend an online clip, and a third friend a movie that I should go see. These "expert" recommendations and easy navigation help me stay up to date and current and ease the discovery process of new things without the clutter. Could Facebook become cluttered? The newly organized site might, but it has great potential to improve and take recommendations and rank and rate them for me.

Facebook is already becoming an easy means to connect to friends and reach out to them when they are online like me. The digital space is moving fast and anything can happen. Just look at the meteoric rise and fall of AOL. "The space is still too fragmented, the ‘cool kids’ are fickle and quick to move to the next social net, unlike the stickiness in the search marketplace.”

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