I have written earlier about the advantage Google has over Facebook in achieving relevance in real-time. There have been many interesting developments since:
- The battle for online identity intensified with the fight between Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect.
- Facebook changed its privacy strategy but later retracted making Friend Lists public.
- Google introduced real-time search.
- Google Suggest included instant answers and universal search results.
- Twitter declared that it will open its firehose to all developers.
- Most importantly, Google personalized everyone’s search results, something that deserves extraordinary attention says Danny Sullivan.
Looking at these developments together, it is clear that both Facebook and Google want to become indispensable by providing you with relevant information in real-time.
This race is becoming a war. Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg had mentioned a “shift from an information economy to a social economy”. Mike Arrington clearly understands this war, as he asked Google’s VP Marrissa Mayer about moving from search to discovery of content via social networks like Twitter and Facebook. Quite predictably, Mayer talked about Google Social Search and Real-Time search in response.
Facebook is on a quest for Searchability, Google is on a quest for Relevancy. Facebook has already pocketed relevancy with its social network, while Google has already pocketed search. Real-time is no longer a technological challenge.
Google is taking an algorithmic approach to social relevancy. Google’s personalized search results and enhancements to Google Suggest reveal its algorithmic approach to finding relevance in the absence of its social network. Because you do not have friends in Google, it is using your browsing patterns, Twitter follows, and search patterns of billions of its users to ascertain what may be socially relevant to you.
Steve Rubel predicted that Google will start promoting Google Profiles heavily. In the meantime, with personalized search results, Google has a stealth profile of everyone already.
Facebook keeping Friend Lists private may be to retain its exclusive access to your social graph, rather than a response to privacy criticism. Facebook must realize that if it hands over your social graph to public search engines, Google will have a huge lead in this race. I suspect that its retraction has more to do with continuing to be a strategic player in this race, and less with privacy. At the minimum, Facebook should expect significant financial benefits out of sharing Friend List information.
Twitter wants to be equated with real-time information. With Twitter opening up its data, expect Facebook apps to work with Twitter. Search engines are already integrating Twitter like mad. Whether you are a user, search engine, application or developer, Twitter wants to be your real-time channel. Kent asked why does Real Time always equate to Twitter? Because that’s exactly what Twitter wants to be.