Google versus Facebook

Facebook started as a geek’s hobby, now it’s more popular than Google (from the Guardian)

Facebook is now a bigger company than Google, in terms of its user base (Facebook has yet to disclose a profit). The article above has the headline that it started as a “geek’s hobby” but is now more popular than Google, but why would it be?

Google apparently has failed to catch the social networking market, other than by taking over Orkut which is popular in Brazil. But it still has its search engine, mail and Blogger. It’s biggest problem right now is the lack of reliability, with both searches and attempts to access Blogspots failing on a regular basis (for me, anyway).

Facebook doesn’t have a blogging platform, nor a search engine, nor a mail platform that rivals any of the traditional web mail providers. For a start, you can’t mail someone who is off Facebook and you can’t save drafts. Rather, it does one thing, namely social networking, and does it well.

So, it has a messaging system, but it’s not proper email. You can share pictures, but if you really want to show them off, you are better off putting them on Flickr. You can share videos, but YouTube and Vimeo are where you go if you’re serious. Facebook has basic versions of these facilities to enhance their social networking system, not as a platform for serious photographers or wannabe film-makers.

So, Facebook isn’t Google and isn’t trying to be. There’s still room for other forms of social internet use and people will pay for some of it, as with Flickr and LiveJournal and recent blogging upstart Dreamwidth. One thing I like about them is the removal of the term “friend” from their contacts, as I’m against calling any online contact a friend. Not everyone I let into my life is a friend; it’s something that grows, rather than coming into being at the touch of a button.

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