Is Facebook Actually Winning The World Right Now?

Well of course they’re “winning,” if you call Q1 revenue of over $3.5 billion and nearly a billion daily active users “winning.”

But I’m talking about winning, about sitting at the poker table with a huge pile of chips in front of you, opposite some dude who’s got a huge pile of chips in front of him, and you’re holding some kind of good hand, a full house or straight flush maybe, and you decide to go all in.

The dude across Facebook’s table is Google, of course, and three things are making me wonder where the spoils will go.

First up: the announcement two weeks ago that Facebook is testing in-app search. As TechCrunch reported, “Alongside buttons to add photos or locations, some iOS users are seeing a new ‘Add A Link’ option. Just punch in a query, and Facebook will show a list of matching links you might want to share… If rolled out to all users, it would let them avoid Googling or digging through Facebook’s News Feed to find a link to share.”



Did you catch that? It would let them avoid Googling. No more clumsy tab-switching or copy-pasting. There’s a pretty clear use case for this, and it’s not hard to imagine a quick and widespread uptake.

Second: the hullaballoo over, Facebook’s “free” Internet program for developing nations. I put “free” in quotation marks but really I should put “Internet” in quotation marks, because, while the program is in fact free, it only gives you access to a small handful of sites.

Hence the hullaballoo, in the form of companies like Times Group, Cleartrip and Flipkart pulling their content from the platform, and an open letter accusing Facebook of violating the principals of net neutrality, signed by 67 digital rights groups.

Is the uprising indicative of the initiative’s inevitable failure? I doubt it. Facebook has made far bigger screw-ups along the way, provoking far greater ire. Remember when it automatically changed all our privacy settings without telling us? Remember when it gave us all new email addresses and set them as the default contact without asking us? Remember Beacon? Each time, the company shrugs off the backlash and keeps moving forward. I’d say the number of people delighted to get access to even a walled garden is far greater then the number of people outraged over the garden’s walls.

Third, the integration, Borg-like, of traditional news media into the Facebook platform. (The astute reader will recall that I wrote about this a few weeks ago, in a column titled, “Digital Democracy? More Like Digital Dictatorship.”)

And where does Google sit on each of these initiatives? In-app search is a clear and present danger to the search giant. If there’s one thing the human race has proven over and over again, it is that we are lazy creatures of habit. If I tried to get people to go to a new and different site in order to search, forget it. But drop a search function into a site that I already visit habitually, and allow me to skip the extra effort of switching sites to find content, and I’m in.

Free Internet access for everyone? Google’s Project Loon -- free balloon-powered Internet for everyone -- may be accelerating, but it’s still a ways from becoming widely available, and has a first-mover advantage, with over 9 million people already using the service.

And integrated news? Right now, Google News links directly to news outlets. Will Google be surfacing that same content as readily once it’s embedded within Facebook?

Facebook leans forward, using both hands to push its entire stack of chips into the middle of the table. Will Google blink?

2 comments about "Is Facebook Actually Winning The World Right Now? ".
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  1. christopher collins from Cqs Business Solutions, May 22, 2015 at 11:09 a.m.

    Good read.

    You don't know that FB CEO Mark Z. is a game player?
    His favorite game in college was Risk and he was very good at it.
    If you don't know what the game is about then check out this link below and ask yourself
    "Where do I see this behavior?"

    Risk is a strategy board game produced by Parker Brothers Risk: The Continental Game, then as Risk: The Game of Global Domination.[1]

    Risk is a turn-based game for two to six players. The standard version is played on a board depicting a political map of the Earth, divided into forty-two territories, which are grouped into six continents. The object of the game is to occupy every territory on the board and in doing so, eliminate the other players.[2] Players control armies with which they attempt to capture territories from other players, with results determined by dice rolls.

  2. Greg Alvarez from iMeil, May 22, 2015 at 3:19 p.m.

    There is a very important element you are not considering: people must be logged in into Facebook (the app) to do anything you have comment.

    Facts and stats are out there indicating the "Facebook exodus", from Millenials to baby boomers.

    MOs like the ones made by Facebook are only indicative that there is a need for a "Law" that will go against these practices... who wants that? Nobody, but the people working for this socnet seems to look for it. They say its called "lack of ethics".

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