If there is a fascinating subject of warfare where no casualties occur but the battle goes on,it is Google vs. Facebook battle. I love to analyze the battle that has been going on between two large companies, one a giant and another a social media titan.
The giant Google has sounded the bugle. No longer it is afraid to take the battle into titan Facebook’s territory. It has had enough. It really feels that the title of the giant of the Internet belongs to Google and not to Facebook.
Google plus is everywhere
Jokes apart, last month was a month that was very eventful in terms of launch of Google plus. With Google plus, Google has finally stopped tiptoeing around Facebook with not so great products and instead decided to tackle Facebook head=on. Google plus was launched with much fanfare. The invites started to flow but were soon stopped when Google got overwhelmed with the demand( really? ) . The notable features included Circles, where you could add friends and the huddle where many friends could video chat together. A few less notable features were also introduced. Google successfully played to the gallery with more privacy options( though it has the largest amount of data on anyone on earth) hitting Facebook almost where it hurts the most.
It is easier to get an actor to be a cowboy than to get a cowboy to be an actor – John Ford
( I don’t know how it fits but I liked the quote)
Internet was abuzz with how Google plus was on the better side of Facebook. After all it had more privacy, better features and an almost Facebook like look. In fact a few pictures that floated showed it customized exactly to look like Facebook. There are sites after sites comparing Google Plus with Facebook. In features department Google plus fared much much better until Facebook brought its own chat application in association with Skype.
How many bullets you got?
Till now Google plus has garnered support of 10m( 18m as of latest ) users compared to 750 m users that use Facebook. That is mark of its popularity in short amount of time.
The interesting point to note , that most of the analysts have forgotten is how many of the 10m are still on Facebook. In my opinion, most of them are still there. They like Google plus and they still cannot leave Facebook. Thus none out of own them exclusively. However Facebook still owns 740 m ( 750 –10) exclusively, those that Google would like to woo.
Even after so much slogans that are being hurled in the online world, I am not very hopeful that Google plus will ever displace Facebook from number one.
No one could ever displace Google from Search Engine leadership. No one could beat Microsoft in Desktop office . No one could beat Amazon in e-retail sales.
There have been cases where number one has been toppled by number one, but often they are not in majority.
To start with my argument, if you ever purchase a software, do you really go by features all the time? Yes, it is more bang for a buck but do you really use all the features? It is quite possible that you get excited initially by the count of features but how many of them you possibly use. I would say , only 20% ( based on the famous 80/20 rule).
So what has war got to do with Facebook vs Google?
Let us look at this from a battle point of view. Though warfare technology has rendered advantage of heights irrelevant, in a business, such a warfare is not possible. If you study history, you will find that most of the time, the entrenched enemy is extremely difficult to topple if not impossible. The entrenched enemy has good knowledge of terrain, has been there for a long time andis dug in . It is has been proven that battle for an army has always been tough that is going up the hill to fight the enemy that is entrenched on the hilltop.
Some years ago, Microsoft used to be a dominating IT company. Its software ruled PCs ( still does) till the Internet arrived. Microsoft was so busy with ts core business that it gave internet revolution a miss.
This is what I could find about Google in those days:
Web darling Google has some fresh competition: a pair of start-ups aiming to improve on its immensely popular recipe for serving fast, relevant search results untainted by pay-for-placement listings.
Web darling ?
From a web darling to a web giant Google has traveled quite a bit in time. Doing a “time search” ( year 2000) on Microsoft vs Google, I was hard pressed to find any news about Google.
Google has done what a start-up, using disruptive technology does to a giant and in the process become one. Now it is the new Microsoft, earning a lot and having huge market cap.
If you look at Facebook it is doing the same to Google that Google did to Microsoft, using disruptive concepts and innovation . Google is responding similar as Microsoft ( Google Plus vs Facebook and Bing Vs Google). Even though MS’s Bing provides better results than Google , it is lagging far behind Google in internet search market. A case of being too late, when the party is over.
Better product wins ?
The argument that a better product wins, is not always true. There are many operating systems that exists today. Many of them are much better than Windows Vista and seven ( the geek community which includes me would agree ;) . However, how many consumers actually use them over Microsoft? A very few and I am talking of not-so technically challenged people. Success in business market of course depends on a good product but is also on the right perception and occupying the category first.
Example : Today hundreds of companies make Photocopier instruments ( Canon, Xerox, HP etc.) but how does general public call a photocopy , a Xerox. Why? Because the name is stuck and even if Xerox is no longer a leader, the name Xerox is still synonymous with photocopying.
Size matters ? Not if it is not your turf.
Next argument is that Google just by its sheer size will crush Facebook. Truth is far far from this argument. If this was the case, Google would have never become what it was today and IBM would not have allowed Microsoft to take over its PC business. If that was the case none of the start-ups would be successful in the face of mighty giants. History has recorded otherwise.
Another argument is that Google is growing in many products while Facebook leads in only one. That is true but that does not indicate that Facebook is going to go down to Google. Facebook has acquired a characteristic of its own and enjoys a huge brand perception, ignored for a really long time by Google. Though Google is a fantastic technology company, the only product that competes directly with Facebook is Google plus. The winner is still not decided yet.
Line extension trap rears its ugly head again
Google plus is also under severe line extension trap with Google plus. It has smartly played other categories such as Gmail, Android and others( with Google silently hiding behind). I am not saying that this law is perfect but it works most of the time.
I am not in love with Facebook particularly. To tell you , I am more of a fan of Orkut, which stands much neglected when so much focus is on Google plus. In my opinion Google plus will find it very hard to beat Facebook until Facebook commits blunders or leaves a void for Google to pick over. In the near future, I do not see that happening.
So what do you think what are the things Google doing right? Or how would it favour in Facebook vs Google battle
PS: Yesterday Linked in owner said that Google plus will not be successful and people responded by saying that Google plus has twitter , Facebook and Linked in features combined and hence it will kill all of them. I don’t think so because they are leaders in their own areas and are very smart not to encroach on each other territories