This boxing match is over before it gets started: Facebook wins. Here's why:* Brand: Facebook is about staying connected with friends. Google is about making the world's data searchable. Google is therefore not on solid ground. Analogous to Starbucks desperately trying to make more money by expanding into grocery store ice cream. It just dilutes the brand.
* Monopoly: Google is already pervasive in our lives due to its dominance in search, email, collaboration, smartphone integration, and more. People are going to resent or ignore the company's attempt to elbow out Facebook just like we resent it when one close friend tries to eliminate another one from our lives.
* Insanity: The definition of which is continuing to do the same thing over and over again and expecting different results. Examples: Google Wave. Google Buzz. Orkut. Knol. Face it, Google: Social networking is not your thing.
* Enemy: Facebook stays focused on its core business for a reason - they really know what they're doing. Already Mark Zuckerberg has an account on Google+. Talk about confidence. Talk about being connected everywhere, even on enemy ground. Talk about turning enemies into friends. Talk about keeping those enemies close. Can you say brilliant?
* Privacy: Last but not least, Google doesn't seem to get that people actually care about privacy and worry about being tracked online, especially when it comes to their personal email. Who wants to have their individual account connected socially to everything they do online? Despite all the company's reassurances about privacy protection, the fact is that when you do business (personal or professional) using Google email over Google's servers, they have touched your data. Now do you want to have an endless circle of friends, semi-friends, and contacts who aren't friends but who you've friended anyway, linked to your Gmail account? There's a reason why people do their professional networking on LinkedIn, their commenting on Twitter, and their friendship activities on Facebook: We like to keep different streams of our data separate.
Google is a great brand on many levels. But this one was a bad idea from the start. Doomed by its roots in envy of a competitor rather than the expansion of Google's own areas of excellence. Just like Microsoft laughably trying to overtake Google with "Bing" rather than get better at what it is they do best: create integrated software suites that are useful to the average business person. (How 'bout working on Sharepoint?)
Lesson for them and for the rest of us:
Stick to your core competencies--your unique selling proposition--the thing you can do better than anybody else, almost effortlessly. Succeed at that and then expand from there. Don't let yourself get jealous. (See "Obsessing about the competition blinds you to opportunity.")
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