Google, Facebook Duel for Data
"You can see the impact of their ability to infer what you are searching for through the new Google Instant interface," Li noted. "If they can infer even more about your intent because of your social profile, past search history, and compare it in a millisecond against all of the other people with a similar profile, they can produce more relevant search results than the competition."However, he said that Google's opportunities in social extend beyond just search, noting that socializing properties such as Google Maps, YouTube and other Web services in a smart and integrated way is essential. Schmidt also said at Zeitgeist that Google would love to get Facebook users' contact lists so that people can grow their social network on Google. For example, while Google's Gmail allows Facebook to scan their Gmail contacts to help them find out whether those people also use Facebook, Facebook doesn't allow Google to access similar information from Facebook. This presents an interesting opportunity for Google, Li claims. She believes that Google's layered approach underscores how there is a lot of social activity happening outside Facebook. The social network giant, which has used its Like button to propragate the network across several businesses, must recognize this or risk missing growth opportunities. "To stay relevant, Facebook has to open up, including to competitors like Google, and Google will fight the war on its own turf, search," Li said. "Google Me thus doesn't end up being a Facebook replacement -- Google is hoping that Facebook will be just one of the inputs into an aggregated experience, especially as social activity fragments across sites, rather than consolidates on Facebook.
Ray added that there is tremendous value in having Google make search results more personally relevant based on the opinions and ratings of one's friends.