With a fanship of over half a million people strong morbidly updating us about going to the gym and how they’re about to eat dinner semi-colon right bracket, Facebook's dominance seems untouchable, as they relish on their throne as the Wal-Mart of social networking. That is, until you mention Google.
Google’s intentions for creating a “Facebook killer” entered the limelight on Wednesday when it was revealed by sources close on the matter that media mogul was in heavy talks with the juggernauts of social gaming. Rumored as “Google Me”, the service will be driven by a wide variety of games produced by Disney’s recently acquired Playdom Inc. , Electronic Arts Inc.'s Playfish, and the Zynga Game Network Inc., the latter of whom Google recently invested $100 million in. These partnerships with Google would be the first in a long line of steps to pull the rug out from under the immovable object known as Facebook, and the numbers agree that it's the right initiative.
According to a recent report released by theWall Street Journal, social gaming in China and Japan was a $700 million market last year. By 2012, that number is supposed to triple. Creators of Facebook’s FarmVille, Zynga have raised over 61.6 million users alone on their ranch, holding the potential to draw these prospective users to wherever their cows graze next. It’s a lucrative market which sees 30% of virtual purchases paid out to Facebook by the developers. Google is seeking to get their hands in this cookie jar.
"This is all about ad revenues, nothing else," said Lon Safko, coauthor of The Social Media Bible, when he sat down with TechNewsWorld.
"Facebook has figured it out: get the traffic, sell the ads and even-split the ad rev with its members. It's what Google has been doing on the public side."
This translates into hundreds of millions of dollars of missed revenue for the media mogul that already reaches across the fars and wides of internet achievements. As Facebook grows exponentially with users, so do the potential profits Google sits back and watches pass them by. So with all their combined prowess, why wouldn’t the two hold hands instead of forming fists and ill relations?
"I am sure that Zuckerberg already has a good handle on ad sell implementation, so he doesn't need Google,” says Safko. "If all that is true, then Google has no choice but go head-to-head with Facebook and re-invent the Facebook wheel and directly compete."
This wouldn't be Google’s first venture into the social networking hemisphere. Back in February, Google introduced Buzz, a networking and messaging tool integrated into their Gmail e-mail service, allowing users to publicly share videos, photos, and status updates. The release was marred in controversy and criticism incited by privacy concerns and its reception has been primarily negative. They also own Orkut, a social networking site heavily popular in India and Brazil, and lightly purposeful in the US. In March of 2004, 51.36% of site traffic was from US residents. As of April 2010, the number sat irrelevantly at 2.2%
Google certainly has a long way to go before it's a worthy competitor to Facebook, let alone be a worthy successor. Building upon their failures and strength of their brand, Google's venture into social gaming will presumably be met with considerable success and with any luck, help them write a happy (and profitable) ending to their internet David vs. Goliath story.