The Google vs. Facebook War
Up until quite recently, Facebook has been growing and developing its service offering without causing too much tension from other big players in the online landscape. Granted Facebook has put numerous small online only projects out of business with some of its expansions. A good example is the Facebook development to add birthday reminders to the service which saw many small companies focusing on this as their USP go under.
More recently though Facebook is starting to put pressure on some larger companies with its service expansions. The Facebook places software is encroaching on the presence of Foursquare and other location based social networks which we have previously discussed. But now Facebook have taken their battles one step further, and is challenging the biggest internet player of all; Google.
How has it started?
Google has traditionally operated its Gmail contacts API quite freely so if you plug into it you can allow a user to add their friends also on Gmail quite easily. So when you login to Facebook with a Gmail account you could import any of your contact lists in, meaning you can quickly add your existing friends to Facebook.
Well that was great and worked like it did with other email clients such as hotmail, yahoo etc but now Google have updated the terms of service to say if you use this feature from the contacts API, you must also allow the data flow to go the other way back to Google. Personally this seems reasonable enough but Facebook were not of the same opinion and did not allow this to happen, which subsequently led to Google blocking Facebook from using the API. Facebook then went further and put in place a workaround for users to simply export their Google contacts and upload them into Facebook.
The latest problem
As pointed out by Ben Parr on Mashable, the reason this battle is taking place is that no one wants to make a losing move in what is ultimately the battle for who controls social media on the web. But the battle is slowly turning into a war with the latest announcements from Facebook.
They have just announced a new messaging / email service dubbed project Titan which has been referred to as a “Gmail killer”. It is essentially a combined messaging service that you can use to communicate with friends over a number of different methods such as SMS, Email, Instant messaging etc. Whether this is viewed as a replacement to Gmail is yet to be seen, but it shows Facebooks strategy to move into a more all encompassing service.
Other Areas of Competition
Both sides are ramping up their offerings and Google has recently announced a change to its business listings review area which has now been called hotpot. This is more along the lines of something like Trip Advisor where you are using a location based search to determine which business / restaurant / bar to visit based on other peoples recommendations (again something Foursquare was trying to do). Whilst this is not yet directly competing with Facebook, it is starting to encroach on Facebook pages (where you list your business) and will undoubtedly be competing more heavily in the future.
Facebook as well has been making other inroads into Google based products, with ventures such as doc.com which is a direct rival on Google docs which is all based on sharing documents with friends or work colleagues.
It will be interesting to see who throws down the next challenge and which area this will be in, so keep checking back to our blog for more updates in the coming weeks.Tweet