Did you notice that you hardly speak out internet addresses to someone anymore? You used to say “hey check out double u, double u, double u, dot, facebook, dot com” but now, people only need to know what they vaguely should look for in Google and they’re done. The ubiquitous verb ‘to google’ has passed the meaning of search; Google __is__ the internet.
It’s a bold statement, but yet, it doesn’t end there. Since the launch of Gmail in 2003, Google has proven to be also capable of conquering other existing markets by developing (or buying) superior products and offer them for the best price: free.
Because of the superiority of their products and the free availability, millions of users (and even businesses) rely now on Google for a lot of things they do online. And they keep relying more and more with Google releasing successful products like Chrome and Android as well. Google is, intentionally, increasingly becoming a part of our lives beyond the internet.
Flashback to 1998. With 95 % marketshare at the time, you can safely say that Microsoft’s Windows was synonymous to a computer back then – and Netscape was synonymous to accessing the internet. But not for long.
Microsoft needed a way to win the browser wars and decided to ship Internet Explorer with Windows, and made sure it was very hard to remove. Of course, they’ve been sued with antitrust cases for years for this aggressive campaign, but in the end they won and that’s all what mattered. This looks familiar, doesn’t it?
Of course, people say now, the situation with Google is very different. With Google, you have a choice. You can either use their products or not. But it’s not that simple when they offer superior products for free. You rely on them, because you often have to use one of their products, because Search, Maps or Gmail, to name a few, are all far more superior than what other competitors have to offer. And if there’s a new kid on the block they can’t compete with, they simply (try to) buy them to maintain their implicit monopoly position.
Contrast the position of Facebook to Google. Sure, they’re able to tout to have 750 million users and ‘own social’ – just like Netscape did in their heydays. But are people relying on Facebook? No. Can you make money with Facebook, like you can with Adsense? No. Can you optimize your website, like with Analytics? No. Can you live without Google Calendar, the app that synchronizes the calendars of your entire company – and your iPhone? No. What does Facebook actually offer anyway that makes you rely on them for any important aspect of your life, other than holding your social graph in hostage? Nothing.
The Real Deal
But Google’s products, where Google+ is going to be baked in, is not even Facebook’s biggest problem. Welcome to the world of SEO, where Google is lord and master. Facebook isn’t very willing to let Google index their data and think they can overcome the power of Google’s position by asking people to make Facebook their homepage. But Facebook can’t provide answers to real world problems – let alone any other kind of problem – in the way that Google can provide them so it will take Facebook a very very long time to convince people of the benefits of their “social search” engine.
Until that time, Google+ is already being favored in search results over Facebook. If you search for my name for example you’ll see that my Google+ profile stands out from other results already:
Google+ is Google’s Internet Explorer move to win the social wars with Facebook – and, believe me, the GOOG is going to put her $ 172 bn weight into it.