Face the book – Google for second place?

Google has been the numero uno website ever since lil johnny learned to count. But its ‘divinity’ over the internet is now in jeopardy as its own popularity quickly diminishes in favor of a simple social network with a  unique approach.
March-May 2010 - Google Vs. FB - % internet usersJust like Google ’searches’ for stuff over the internet, facebook kinda encapsulates it into its enclosure. With a  massive stream of apps/mobile devices and whatnot compliance, FB is taking over the internet and media by storm.
Google gets ranked first due to many reasons, one of which is PageRank – but facebook’s like/share options are grabbing links by storm, and every other page you see is off/on/linked to facebook. The result- exponential increase in link popularity, something Google has never had. the more people like/share stuff, the more link popularity facebook gets. All the websites I’ve been using over the past few years now have ‘like/share’ , and various other functions/apps. from FB integrated with them, game portals to news sites alike.
In short, FB’s business model is similar to Google in the sense that it also claims internet territory as its own, n doesn’t let you go anywhere without it, much like Google. However, its encapsulation in representation is far better than that of a conventional search engine.
Its growing popularity was first acknowledged last holiday season, when it officially beat Google for a day at Christmas eve 09(in terms of traffic). March 16 2010 saw FB beating Google for a full week, something that’s never happened before. To add to the injury, its internet messaging systems n chat are going head to head with most messaging solutions(with the exception of Skype, as it offers VOIP – thats coming soon at FB too, or so I’ve heard). Can’t remember the last time i signed on my IM, ICQ yahoo chat, or GTalk.
As of yesterday (12 may 2010) there is a minor difference of 10% between both websites, Google at 43% of internet users and FB at 33%. Three months ago, it was18%, Google at 48% and FB at 30% (source Alexa).
The question – when do you think will FB overtake Google – today, tomorrow, day after, next month, next year, or never? Do you think its a more aggressive business model in terms of Internet conquest than  Google? Or is FB over-rated?
BTW, My pick – statistically, today will be the day FB overtakes Google for good, but next year (13 May 2011).
Comments welcome, with rationale.
Reference links:


  • For me:
    – the FB is a recreational toy, good for the social activity for some people,
    – it should be used only in a free time, too many people use it 24/7,
    – its value is overpriced, as many internet brands,
    – the Google is overpriced as well, but gives a better usage, for business, edu, health, …..

  • I think you’re comparing apples to oranges there – Google’s a search engine, and for me the first ‘go-to’ if I want to find something on the net. Facebook is a place where people spam each other with farmville requests, and recirculate funny links and pictures.
    I think there’s value to the ‘share this’ option, we’re seeing on websites, but I don’t think it’s really the same – I’ll usually have FB and other social networking sites open, but that doesn’t mean I’m going to uninstall my google toolbar.

  • Two very different things; beyond comparision. We still use google but now it has become so normal in our regular lives that we don’t even notice it. Facebook is still new but I believe that will have the same importance as google, regarding social connection, of course (while google for search purposes).

  • Both have very different business models in some ways. Even though on the surface they both appeal to web “consumers.”
    And you’re analysis reads as if Facebook is the only innovator here when Facebook is also “borrowing” many ideas from others such as Foursquare and Twitter and then launching them as new Facebook features.
    This article might be worth a read – http://calacanis.com/2010/05/12/the-big-game-zuckerberg-and-overplaying-your-hand/.
    Also to date Facebook doesn’t have the same set of tools to connect with the small and medium business audience (i.e. Premium Google Apps, etc.) and even the set of large organizations (City of LA, etc.) who have switched to Google Apps.
    In addition, Facebook doesn’t have a device/OS/browser market they are building out as Google is in mobile phones with Android, TV’s with DragonPoint (in connection with Sony, Intel, etc.), a dedicated browser in Chrome OS, an upcoming set of Android based tablets to compete with the iPad,(see recent Verizon stories) etc.
    And all of those devices, operating systems, and browsers and going to point first and foremost at Google sites and services.
    So I think Facebook still has a ways to go before they can get ahead of Google.
    Much less Google isn’t going to stand still if Facebook starts to move past them. It’s always the missing part of analysis like this. What would you do if you were the other guy (i.e. Google) and how would that affect the calculation. 🙂

  • I said it before here:
    Comparing Google and Facebook is like comparing the US Census with an apartment building; one describes the community, the other IS the community.
    Also consider that Google is much more than a search engine and YouTube; it has many apps like Webmaster Tools, Google Analytics, Google Docs, Google Maps, Gmail, Wave and more.

  • Google’s revenue and profitability lead is pretty formidable. Facebook has quite a ways to go in that area.
    I was impressed however, by the news that Facebook is now more popular than porn. Then, I began to wonder how there is any way to know that.

  • I agree with all of the above comments. There is NO comparison between the two. Google has been my search engine of choice since about 2 months after they started back in the 90’s.
    Facebook, will most likely be another flash in the pan as was myspace and so many of the other “look at me, I am somebody” websites that give the user’s their nano second of glory.
    If a business or person’s only website presence is a ‘facebook’ page, then I generally keep searching for another resource to learn about them. Instead of being larger than google in two years, I predict FB will be just another has-been in the heap of Internet flash dance.

  • I agree with most of the answers. you can’t really compare. But he fact is FB is popular. As it the internet was predominately for businesses only until recently google domination (overtaking MS on computer domination) was natural. Now FB with huge young population using it, getting others(namely grand parents and non-computer parents) into FB, it is natural that it will over take Google in usage. With the introduction of Smart Mobile phones with built in FB apps, it is sooner than later I guess.

  • These are the real results of Turkey Internet Access (after 7pm)
    %80 YouTube – Maybe you don’t know but YouTube access is forbidden in Turkey.
    %10 Google
    %5 FB
    %5 others

  • My prediction: FB will be gone in 5 years and Google will still be around.
    Google has: much wider products, better business model and not as dependent on being trendy.

  • Nicely written, Zohaib. Peace to you and yours as well.

  • Facebook fills their niche well, but they will never be Google. Web pages will never become Facebook “Pages”. While they are important, and indeed ARE important to my side business, they simply aren’t functional enough to be the primary point of contact for a company. People are already upset with FB’s privacy issues and that looks like it’s just going to get worse with time. Google does some things very well like search, email, Phone OS’s. Facebook is just….well…..social.

  • Google is Business, Facebook is Social. Facebook uses Google Infrastructure.
    What your stats mean is that people are using internet more for personal than business!
    A great sign for those of us in the content design and production industry!
    * http://www.MindTaffy.com

  • Saying Facebook is going away is ludicrous! I like allot of you are in the over 30 crowd and I am still admittedly kind of afraid of Facebook. But one thing is for sure… my kids understand it and live it. Facebook has just begun to truly monetize their platform the way Google had to figure a way back 10 years ago. When they do there is nothing that will hold them back. They also have done a great job of reaching out to the business community and create another viable channel for business to communicate with their audience.
    Facebook overtaking Google is only significant from a historical standpoint. No one is going to look at Google and go “whats wrong”. They keep on keeping on making a ton of money and dominating their corner of the web. Does this mean the two social media giants wont clash at times? Of course they will as the each look for new ways to expand their markets. But contrary to the crystal ball used in saying Facebook will be gone in 5 years…aint happenin!!!

  • Facebook’s ever-changing interfaces are a major setback. The networking toy has major glitches that are often seen popping from one section to another, which also reflects that they are poor in their beta tests. Simple example: they initially offered better privacy setting where you could hide status updates from selected people. Now, to hide them, you need to prevent people from seeing all posts you make.
    Coming to Google, there is NO comparison between the two. Its not just about the traffic each one is getting, but the “attention to detail” and utility that each one offers.

  • I feel like a lot of the responses here are based on the personal bias of individuals who aren’t thinking beyond their own exposure or experience to the available tools. I’m also not really sure that the statements about the business models and operating spheres being completely different is all that accurate. It’s a fact Google is huge and their portfolio is getting larger and more diverse by the day, but that doesn’t mean that FB cannot compete with them or that they are not already. Although it may not be immediately apparent, it’s pretty clear to me that FB intends to start expanding into the search market, and I think the fact that Google has been adding “social” features to all of their tools for the last year indicates that they’re acutely aware of it too.
    The way that FB is moving into the search territory is the same way that Google has been moving into everything else for years. They started small with a very dedicated focus on a niche market, they positioned themselves as the nice guys that wanted to play fair with everyone, slowly they figured out ways to use their unique point of view to insert their tentacles into our lives in small inocuous ways until they were too big to ignore, and now FB is almost big enough to start making jumps to other markets that are less related to their core competency.
    With regard to the search market specifically, I love the statement “…one describes the community [(Google)], the other IS the community [(FB)]”. To me, Google is almost like a set of encyclopedias or a phone books; I can get all the facts I need and I can almost always trust them. FB is like asking my neighbor for something; I might get the right answer, I might not, but I may also get something I never thought to ask for but is still completely relevant (or not…). In addition, I can’t really ask a search engine what it thinks about something (a review), but I can ask my friends and their opinion of the topic automatically gives me a hint of what my own opinion might be. Afterall, if you’re my friend, then our experiences are probably similar, making your opinion relative to me. This is really the “search” that FB is building.
    FB’s approach is undeniably different, but there’s a lot of overlap with Google’s search market. There’s also significant potential for them to make a significant impact if they continue to find success with their new tools, especially their new “Like” feature which expands FB’s reach far beyond the boundaries of the application itself.
    For the record, Google is my go to for everything and I dislike FB immensely, but I can’t argue FB’s tactics. To maintain their dominance they need to do 2 things:
    1. Make a real commitment to their social tools and make them better than everyone else’s, just like they did with search, online advertising, Chrome, and everything else.
    2. Decide who they are building these applications for; techies/early adopters OR everyone else? Apple has become successful by targeting the largest market (non or minimally-tech technology users). FB is headed in the same direction. Google has done this with some tools, but not all of them.
    -Chrome – Great, simple to use, minimalistic, fast.
    -Google search – Again, minimalistic, clean, fast.
    -Gmail – great if you take the time to learn it, but people love folders and gui and this doesn’t have it.
    -Wave – great idea, but it was too much too soon, nobody is ready to give up IM yet.
    -Reader – not terribly complicated, but as ugly and clunky as could possibly be. Not user friendly.
    -Buzz – not a terrible concept, it was simple enough, but their implementation was poorly thought out and it was released into the wild without nearly enough testing.

  • I think Google can learn a few things from Facebook. One is integrating the social aspect to searching.
    Google’s PageRank Algorithm is solely based on how many sites are linked to a particular site and how popular those sites are, that link to it. (in a nutshell)
    However, there is a social aspect that is missing. Google could implement a fairly easy functionality that allows a person to rate the results of a query or the individual sites that come up on a result. Then create a sort of bookmarking tool of all the sites you clicked on after searching and rated higher than 3, for example.
    Google currently has something similar, but no one uses it because it is different looking enough to make the average web searcher NOT understand what it is. People recognize the 5 stars and know to select the amount of stars as a rating.
    Then Google can create results based on how the masses are reporting the effectiveness of the search results. If 500,000 people select a particular search result as a 5 given a set of keywords – that result should come up first on a result page.
    This would eliminate any competition whatsoever when it comes to search. Google would be the dominant force on the internet search – forever, just by integrating the social aspect. Would it keep Facebook at bay? maybe not, but who cares. They are different products.
    Facebook is a great way to keep in contact with friends, so why should a search engine dominate it? We all can go days without requiring a search query, but we have friends that are waiting to hear our every move and thought 🙂
    Google tries and they have so much money that they can afford to goof around with pet projects and innovative and creative solutions that catch the attention of 1-3% of their users. Google has so much money, they are forgetting to look behind their shoulders. The search engine or directory that implements the social aspect of search will overtake Google, period.
    I have to go now and tell all my friends on Facebook that i just answered a question on LinkedIn – LOL
    * http://www.storiale.com

  • Martin Roche

    t’s a race in which they both have in common the desire to swamp and invade our lives. Google has a good and beneficial core of search, and even though it has broadened it’s reach (too far in many respects), it still has the benefit of the doubt in many minds. Facebook would clearly like to have some of what google is enjoying, particularly from a revenue model point of view. Facebook’s somewhat unapologetic and cavalier attitude towards privacy issues might come back to bite them. It’s a very scary race, and the scorecard is us.
    Beware of strangers bearing gifts.

  • Padric O'Rouark

    One thing you can depend on. Population growth. What I mean is this; the majority of humans are social animals and consequently they instinctively reach out to other humans for recognition and validation. Facebook does that. Most people like to put a name with a face. I am on Facebook but I have not visited it in months. However I have Googled hundreds of times and love Wikipedia.
    Ultimately there is little room for dinosaurs like me who use a cell phone but consider it a glorified dog collar; a person who likes Email because they can collect their thoughts and put them down in an orderly fashion. I knew the internet when it was the “net” only utilized by academics and ubergeeks with mainframe access. And I recall when a “party Line” was several neighbors all connected to one telephone hard line. So to quote a favorite 1989 movie Road House when an antiquated brawler was surplused by the new cooler;
    Morgan: What am I supposed to do?
    Dalton: There’s always barber college.
    Undoubtedly success will mutate and change services so each will take on aspects of their competitors venue. Remember “Old Blue” and “Ma Bell?” When IBM and AT&T and a few others were the only game in town? The one thing you can depend on is change…

  • Tim Tymchyshyn

    right now I just use FB to stay in touch with friends
    but google has some of the same elements as FB, you will see over time that SN’s will collapse because they cannot compete with a entity that is going after the business marketplace

Leave a Reply