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Summary:

Google made a number of announcements last week, including one that will see it partner with San Francisco-based Twitter to get paid access to the micromessaging service’s data feed. The company also said it would launch a social search effort as part of Google Labs. The […]

gigaompro Google made a number of announcements last week, including one that will see it partner with San Francisco-based Twitter to get paid access to the micromessaging service’s data feed. The company also said it would launch a social search effort as part of Google Labs. The moves got me thinking about some of the challenges that Google will face in coming years, especially from Facebook. I’ve outlined them for our $79-a-year subscription research service, GigaOM Pro, in Why Google Should Fear the Social Web.

The growing pervasiveness of fixed and wireless broadband will impact how we create and consume information. Thanks to that pervasive connectivity, there will be an explosion of information, which will make it difficult to find the information we actually want. Google, despite its obvious infrastructure advantages, faces a tough job of sifting through these proverbial mountains of data. Unless, of course, the Mountain View, Calif., based search giant starts embracing concepts quite alien to its DNA, such as the social web.

While it may currently be unfashionable to question Google’s long-term chances, the fact is that the growing influence of Facebook will pose a major risk to Google’s 10 blue links-based business model. The social networking site introduced new features today that allow it to extend its influence (or tentacles) even further across the web and in the process, further shift the focus away from search to discovery — discovery that uses your social graph.

The popularity of social media discovery services is reflected in this image, which comes courtesy of Reddit:

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  1. Friends of Dave (friendsofdave) ‘s status on Thursday, 29-Oct-09 20:48:45 UTC – Identi.ca Thursday, October 29, 2009
  2. Excellent graphs, I had no idea that Reddit was so popular.

  3. All complex systems are finite.
    If you want to extract information out of a social graph it becomes a complex system.
    I wouldn’t give up on Google just yet. According to Eric Schmidt they are on the verge to be able to rank social data. Either they do understand how meaning is created, see http://gigaom.com/2009/10/29/mit-is-building-terminators-nascar-cousin/#more-77517, or they do some Voodoo. In the later case you might be right.
    Point is, even with a finite machine setup you will be faster then any human social graph in discovery. Which will create a new problem of ever more complex relations being highlighted.

  4. Microsoft, Google, Facebook Thursday, October 29, 2009

    [...] hier tut sich was. GigaOM (wo manchmal allerdings auch Käse steht) warnt Google schon vor der neuen Bedrohung durch Facebook (und von Microsoft spricht inzwischen keiner mehr): While it may currently be [...]

  5. It would be interesting to see what this graph would look like if Google was included. Would all the other colored lines completely flatten out?

    1. Bingo! Which is EXACTLY why Google was left out of this graph! It is a rather conspicuous (and not a little hypocritical) omission, considering that Google is squarely targetted in the headline.

      1. And… alexa says:

        http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/google.com

        http://www.alexa.com/siteinfo/facebook.com

        For added amusement, visit any one of the links above, and enter the other company’s name in the “Compare to:” field right below the graph.

      2. It is a comparison of social media sites and how they are growing.

        As for Facebook v Google: The fact that facebook is only 5 years old and has about 27% reach, says something doesn’t it. I think the two are going pretty neck to neck.

    2. Actually all these graphs are from Google search trends. I doubt many people are googling for Google on Google. :-)

      1. Thanks for answering your & leaping woman’s question.

  6. I think you’re underestimating Google’s grip on users and the social muscle it has barely flexed yet. You’ve left out how Google will use its wide reaching products/services like Gmail, Android, Google Wave, Google Chrome, Google Maps, etc. to strengthen it’s position in the social web.

    1. Kevin

      I don’t underestimate anyone’s capability. I was right there when Microsoft took the nukes to Netscape. So Google is not going to be a pushover. But it is not going to be a cakewalk as well, because they are late.

      Whenever I talk to insiders or those who leave the company, the pretty much talk about the same problem: data web vs social web approaches and how Google almost always embraces the former.

      Anyway we shall see…

  7. How about other social network sites of trends, like myspace.com, linkedin.com….

  8. Om wrote: The moves got me thinking about some of the challenges that Google will face in coming years, especially from Facebook.

    It is always amusing when I read Om talk of Facebook as a threat to Google. And, I am always surprised that the usually sharp Gigaom readers don’t call him out on something that obviously doesn’t make sense.

    Social networks are a tiny, tiny part of the larger Internet and all the information continuously produced in the world. Last I heard, Facebook is not the company indexing the entire Internet and on a mission to organize the information in the entire world. Somehow, I can’t imagine anybody firing up Facebook for a quick search any time in the coming years!

    1. Let me try and take a stab at this.

      Information = data in context
      Context = Organized data

      Social data is mostly organized data, from that it’s easier to conjecture what information the user really wants(intent ads) or in general is interested in (display ads)

      Now:
      Business value = Eyeballs * intent

      Facebook has lots of Eyeballs but hasn’t come up with a way to monetize or even identify intent, hence it’s not a stellar business just yet (if ever). But it’s easy for them to cut a deal let’s say with Bing to do the general indexing, use it’s data to get to a users context and be a better search engine then Google. Microsoft is well aware off this, Google I don’t know, Facebook I don’t know.

      Problem is business is not research and it takes them time to wrap their heads around new insides. Also some people don’t like to see what you know about them. So we’ll see.

      1. Going from Theory to Practice:
        Danny Sullivan: http://searchengineland.com/the-myth-of-great-search-engine-results-28445
        “Stupidscript, personalized search is making a huge difference in search results, I’ve been finding. Logged in, I can see pages that were buried back in the 4th page of search results leapfrogging to page 1.”

        Question is, who has better personal data Google search history or Facebook?

  9. Facebook should go even further and do a real search engine at the scale and performance of Google.
    http://blog.idrive.com/?p=386

  10. I think Facebook will continue to stay relevant to the social space, buddies, photos, staying in touch. Facebook data has limited usefulness and for a limited number of people within a limited context . But the internet is more than that, you cannot reduce it to personal social interaction between friends. Twitter is far more interesting but as a broadcast platform, not from friends to friends but to communicate to a large number of people. Facebook and Twitter are great tools for the media and bloggers.journalists community which perhaps explains the hype. But look beyond that and the usefulness begins to look less widespread.

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