Friday, September 23, 2011

Google vs. Facebook

The great debate is on. Which business strategy is better?

On one hand, we have Google. It started as a search engine. Then added some stuff that people liked. You have a personalized homepage, Google Chrome, Google maps, Google docs... just stuff people like. Now they have Google+ to add to their arsenal. To add to it, if it likes what someone else is doing, they just buy it. Blogspot, for example. Yeah, you need a google account to get a blog on this website. What else? Youtube and Android, to name a few, but in all, Google has acquired 103 different companies to take or incorporate their technology. That costs a lot, but now it's all Google branded, and infinitely more easily managed. They can change whatever they want - they own it.

Facebook, on the other hand, is only a website. It has bought its fair share of stuff too. It has 16 companies and two domain names - for $200,000, and much later for another $8.5 million. All of the things it bought fueled its core website - it brought in talent, and the technology powers everything from the friend finder to the mobile app. But it was still all just, as opposed to the dozens of websites Google has under its umbrella. Sounding one sided? Well now facebook wasn't done yet. Instead of flat out buying everything it wants, it has taken a different route. It partnered with other companies. This isn't quite as reliable as buying them out. They are still their own companies. Oh, by the way, facebook just announced a few days ago that they have new partnerships with more than a dozen music platforms, as well as video providers like Netflix, Hulu, and Blockbuster. This provides an interesting opportunity. If facebook plays their cards right, they'll have much more than Hulu and Rhapsody. Their goal is to make facebook a place people never actually have to leave on the internet. Yes, their goal is essentially to become the internet. Or, at least, become an internet browser, but from the other side. It will be the website of websites.

Unlike Google, who seemingly wants to buy the entire internet, company by company, Facebook just intends to use its user base (they have over 800,000,000 users, and recently had over half a billion - with a B - of them log on in a single day) to bait other companies into begging facebook to let them have a presence on facebook. Just think, if you're on facebook and want to watch the most recent episode of Weeds, or South Park, or Glee for that matter, do you really want to go to google, search for it, try to see if Hulu has it, go pirate it somewhere? Not if it's already on facebook. Facebook will have companies lining up to have that kind of advertising. Companies will look at that number of users, which exceeds the US population by a fair margin, and see market potential. They'll line up to try and be the one facebook lets onto their website. They aren't buying companies, oh no. Companies will be paying them instead.

But what happens when facebook's user numbers peak out and decline? All their partnerships fall apart and they're left all alone, just another social networking site that comes second to Google, who probably has the same integrations Facebook does, at this point, but there's a key difference. Google's movie providers, music engines, news, etc. is all OWNED by Google. They can't leave.

So which is the better way to achieving the end goal of owning the internet? To being equated to the internet? To being that company that people someday say, "hold on, lemme get on Google really fast," INSTEAD of saying, "let me get on the internet to check". What if Google's future moves include buying Microsoft? Could there be a Google operating system? Google computers? Google could have it all. Could Facebook do the same?

On a different topic, what I'm envisioning with the Microsoft acquisition is to one day have Google Portal. This creation in my mind is not a program by Google, but a hardware device. Maybe even in public places in addition to hand helds. This thing has one goal: to give you google. Whatever you can do with Google, you can do on this thing. It's a direct connection to the Google internet. But no one will buy that, you say, when you can do all that AND have the rest of the internet with any computer or smart phone. Yes, but what if its a flat rate of a few hundred dollars? What if there aren't any monthly bills? All Google has to do is buy out Verizon, and bam, it can be a phone too. Hell, they could charge a few thousand, and if people thought they could get their money's worth before it broke, it would be a hit.

That's my short little sci fi feature of the night, but back to the original question.... could facebook take google's place in that scenario? They already have that facebook button on the HTC Status; aren't they already closer to the magical device? Either way, I feel one of them will be victorious. I don't know whose side I think will win, but personally, I feel Google has the upper hand. What do you think?

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