Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's affront to Google did not go unanswered as top executives from the two companies engaged in a rare war of words Nov. 7.
Zuckerberg appeared with his COO Sheryl Sandberg on PBS' Charlie Rose show yesterday. When Charlie Rose asked Zuckerberg about Google and its Google+ social network effort, Zuckerberg said Google is "building its own little Facebook."
He's right. There is a lot in Google+ that recalls Facebook; there is a lot that is different, too, starting with the Circles construct. And there's no doubt Google+ never gets built without Facebook blazing the trail as the first universally successful social network.
True also is that Google+ only has 40 million-plus users, compared with more than 800 million on Facebook worldwide.
Yet Zuck's comment is still a slap in the face that was too gross to countenance, so Google+ Vice President of Product Management Bradley Horowitz told Bloomberg's Emily Chang that Google is "delighted to be underestimated" by its rival. See it here:
Well played. However, I'm pretty sure that Zuck was just taking a free shot and certainly takes Google seriously because of its size and cash reserves.
Remember that when Facebook learned of the seedling Google+ project in summer 2010 (called "Emerald Sea" then), Facebook product managers went into lockdown to boost the company's existing products.
Yet why they never built the equivalent of a social nuke to level at Google is beyond me and may come back to haunt them. Wait, is that what Timeline is supposed to be?
Horowitz also acknowledged that Google blew it by failing to launch Google+ Pages, which just launched Monday, at launch five months ago.
The company failed to recognize how hungry businesses were for an alternative branding vehicle to Facebook Pages. They should have consulted their Google Places business users and other ad partners. It just smacks of being out of touch.
Horowitz argued Google+ Pages will be popular, thanks to Google+ Circles, where brands can segment their audience into gold, silver and bronze customers.
Brands can also leverage free Hangouts multi-way video chat to discuss their marketing strategies. Indeed, Google already lets people broadcast themselves via Hangouts, so it's possible brands will reach consumers on Google+ the same way.
Anyway, I thought the little jab-counter between Zuckerberg and Horowitz was interesting.
These companies may like to downplay the competition--Zuckerberg and Sandberg told Rose people like to make more of the conflicts between Google, Facebook, Amazon and Apple than there really exists--but it's great table fodder.