Ok, I admit it. Facebook is on a roll. Earlier today, when most of us were sleeping, the internet was buzzing (shouting?) about the acquisition of FriendFeed by Facebook for a whopping $50 million in cash and stocks. We have already covered the finer points of the deal and it’s clear that the world’s largest social network just boosted their technology in real-time updates, conversations and search.
And there is no dearth of brains in the FriendFeed team; after all it includes the guy who invented Google Mail (he’s my God), the guy who ran Google Talk, the guy who made Google Maps, and the guy who designed a bunch of stuff at Google. It’s a small team of 18 guys with an overflow of engineering talent.
And right after the acquisition news came the update from Facebook that they are rolling out the new Facebook Search which will enable users to search for status updates, photos, notes, images and links. Facebook has effectively nipped one of its major shortcomings in the bud: to somehow index and arrange the millions of data flowing through the social network.
Let’s have a showdown between the three giants on the web right now.
Facebook vs. Twitter
Twitter has been the leader in real time search till now, but by making Facebook real time searchable they have challenged what Twitter wants to do: to be the pulse of the planet. And the FriendFeed technology and interface has always been acknowledged as the best; combine this with the content of 250+ million members from Facebook and you have got yourself a fast, accurate and huge search engine; the true pulse of the planet.
Arranging real time information has always been difficult because it is hard to differentiate the conversations from the chatter. There are times when the relevant talk just gets buried in a flood of useless chatter. The new Facebook will crawl the last 30 days of news feed and bring you results.
Of course, it’s not as if Twitter is going to shut down just because Facebook added some new features. Users have spent months in building relationships and networks there; they won’t shift easily. And I still stand by the idea of using @twitter_handle for calling users and connecting them in 140 words.
Can Facebook duplicate this too?
Facebook vs. Google
You think it’s a co-incidence that the Facebook acquisition and new real-time search engine news were announced on the same day? Entirely wrong, my friends.
I have been a long time believer in the simple fact that if there’s any potential in the future of search, it is in real time. And Google has just been backslapped by Facebook. As I said, the real time search capabilities of FriendFeed combined with the huge mass of Facebook is a power to reckon. The data was always flowing in the Facebook pipes, someone just needed to mine it.
Does the fact that Google also announced new tweaks in the search engine change tilt the showdown in their favor? Well, maybe slightly. But you can keep making search load faster or even give more results; if you can’t tell me what’s happening 5 secs ago then I am not interested. We are all impatient by nature.
Money wise, if the Facebook and FriendFeed brains can crack the real time code, then they can convert the millions of comments and links sharing into billions of keyword searches. And there in lies the business model.
If you look over at Google’s court you will see Google Wave coming soon which promises to be the new definition of web communications. And they are still the forerunners in indexing data accurately (though Bing might be catching up, especially after the Yahoo! deal). Google Android and Chrome in them hold high stakes in transforming how our future generations will see the web, mobile or otherwise.
Google vs. Twitter
I don’t think there are many debates here. Unless Twitter learns how to index the links that flow around in their pipes, most of the talk on Twitter is just chatter. They are definitely the winners here in real time search, while Google leads in quality. And let’s not forget that Twitter still hasn’t found out a monetization plan.
So, this was it; a complete breakdown of the what-is-what of internet. And today was a special day in the history of social media, don’t you think?
Woohoo! I am excited.