Larry Page turned 37 on Friday, March 19, 2010. In 12 years he and his business partner Sergey Brin have created the most powerful company in the world The billionaire co-founders of Google have a lot to celebrate. Together they have seen off rivals big and small, and emerged as the kings of the internet…. Until now.

Google’s Buzz

Google Buzz is a social networking and messaging tool from Google, designed to integrate into the company's web-based email program, Gmail. Users can share links, photos, videos, status messages and comments organized in "conversations" and visible in the user's inbox.
Buzz enables users to choose to share publicly with the world or privately to a group of friends each time they post. Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, YouTube, Blogger, FriendFeed, identi.ca and Twitter are currently integrated. The creation of Buzz was seen by industry analysts as an attempt by Google to compete with social networking websites like Facebook and microblogging services like Twitter. Buzz also includes several interface and interaction elements from other Google products (e.g. Google Reader) such as the ability to "like" a post.
Google hoped that by offering social communications, Buzz would help bridge the gap between work and leisure, but the service and its rollout have been strongly criticized for taking insufficient account of privacy concerns.

The Earth shattering event

Hitwise, the internet industry tracker, announced that Facebook had dethroned Google as the world’s most popular website. For the week ending March 13, the social networking site set up by wunderkind Mark Zuckerberg got more traffic than Google in America. It was a milestone likely to be revisited as Facebook and Google limber up for what looks set to be this decade’s defining technology battle.
Source: The Sunday Times, March 21, 2010, Dominic Rushe

Facebook
1984: Mark Zuckerberg is born in White Plains, New York.
2004: In February, Zuckerberg and co-founders Dustin Moskovitz, Chris Hughes and Eduardo Saverin launch Facebook from their Harvard dorm. The site is for students with Harvard email addresses only, but by March it has added Stanford, Columbia and Yale. By December Facebook has 1m users.
2005: Facebook raises $12.7m from Accel Partners. It adds high schools and international school networks. By December it has 5.5m users.
2006: Facebook raises $27.5m from Greylock Partners, Meritech Capital Partners and others. Facebook Mobile is launched. By the end of the year it has 12m users.
2007: Facebook opens a virtual gift shop and advertising becomes a growing part of the business. Developers are invited to make applications for the site. In October Microsoft pays $240m for a 1.6% stake in Facebook, valuing the company at $15 billion. Microsoft squeezes out Google to do the deal. User numbers pass 50m.
2008: Facebook passes the 100m mark. It opens Spanish and French sites and a translation service for 21 languages. The US presidential debates are co-sponsored by ABC News and Facebook.
2009: Even Facebook isn’t immune to the stock market rout. Digital Sky Technologies, a Russian group, makes a $200m investment that values the company at $10 billion. However, the number of users continues to soar — to more than 350m by the end of the year — and Facebook makes its first profit.
2010: For the week ending March 13, Hitwise says Facebook.com passed Google.com, making it the biggest draw on the net for the whole week for the first time in its history. The company now accounts for 17% of the time people spend online in Britain and America, according to Nielsen. User numbers have passed 400m. Profits are thought to be $1 billion a year. Speculation mounts that Facebook will start looking to raise more money from a stock market float.

Facebook Statistics

Company Figures

Average User Figures

International Growth

Platform

Mobile

Source: Facebook

Facebook vs. Google

Life in the digital world moves quickly. Last week Page and Brin’s [Google founders] crown passed to a 28-year-old rival who has every intention of keeping it.
But for how long?

The Threat
First there was Microsoft. Microsoft didn’t ‘get’ the internet (may be hastened by legal action – remember Netscape?) and chose to dismiss Google ‘as an arrogant upstart’. Microsoft is now playing catch-up but it is too little and too late. The bus has gone….

Then there was Google. Google now faces the challenge of another idea whose time has come. Google has tried to responding by incorporating more social media content on its pages

Facebook (and also Twitter), set up by Mark Zuckerberg, is getting more traffic than Google in the US. Just wnet public for $104 billion. The big impact is that Facebook is the first major competitor to come close to challenging Google since Google became dominant.

Facebook may very well be replaced by some advert serving mobile application/system - an area where Google has invested heavily with Android

Facebook’s growing stats (June 2012)

Facebook: the depositor of information
Facebook users share everything from photos, jokes, to film reviews, restaurant and holiday recommendations. Discovery” is the buzzword in social media — that feeling of finding something that’s been recommended by people you trust. Now Facebook has the critical mass to make discovery a viable alternative to conventional search engines.

All this data that people are sharing potentially allows social networks to gather this information and use it in interesting ways. For example, when you are looking for a movie recommendation, what you want to know is what people like you think. A bunch of kids who rate Twilight with five stars is no use to me. What about middle-aged men who have shown an interest in art films? What are they watching?”

Is this the end of the road for Google?
The most frightening statistic for Google is Facebook’s astonishing growth. Visits to the site have risen 185% during 2011. During the same period, Google’s traffic only rose by 9%.

But don't write Google off just yet….

Factor 1: Google has been diversifying:

That takes Google into head-on competition with Microsoft and Apple, as well as all the mobile phone manufacturers.

Factor 2: Google search:
Google’s algorithms have ordered the chaos of the internet with mathematical exactitude and become the default method for finding things online. There will still be a need for this. Facebook and social media sites do not provide the same facility but satisfy a different set of needs.

Factor 3: Comparing like with like:

A closer look at the numbers shows that Facebook has a long way to go before it can be said to be ahead of Google in any real sense.

Facebook vs Google: comparing like with like
Google’s diversification attempts have to be added to the results. That includes:

Nielsen, the analyst, has a different take on the rise of Facebook to Hitwise. By its measurements, Facebook is the third most visited site on the planet with 2.5 billion hits in February compared with Yahoo’s 2.7 billion and Google’s 3 billion. We think this is a radical underestimate of Google’s search volume and that I could be as high as 3 billion searches a day or around 300-500 million visits a day.

One would expect users to spend longer the amount of time spent on Facebook - it is a different experience. It is more about communicating than a search.

In Google, the less time people spend on Google search the better for the firm. It’s about speed. People want to plug in their query, get the results and move on. Google has won its huge following by being the best at that. But if search migrates away from Google, and Facebook starts eating up time spent on YouTube, Gmail or Google Maps, the search giant has a problem.

ODDLY, as Facebook gets bigger, the internet is looking smaller. Facebook and Google (with YouTube, and Gmail) now account for more than 17% of internet activity — nearly one web visit in every five. The runners up are losing ground, leaving the possibility of a world where Google and Facebook slug it out as the Coke and Pepsi of the internet universe: both sides battling for the title ‘The Real Thing’.

Source: The Sunday Times, March 21, 2010, Dominic Rushe