One of the great things about digital is that it really helps to crystallize certain behaviors. This means visible, predictive intelligence online. One of the most sticky platforms still remains the ubiquitous Facebook, while Google is practically synonymous with search. While they both started off as very distinct entities, it seems that FB has evolved enough to actually start moving into the Search space.
Ever contemplate disabling or deactivating your Facebook account? You know what is top of mind of users when they worry aloud in the FAQ section of FB about losing their data from Farmville (or any other FB game, really!). This, instead of losing all their friends and contacts. This was a few months ago, when Farmville concerns were right at the top of the discussion topics.
It will be interesting when the games and virtual goods segment in FB grows. The question then is how this will translate in markets like South Korea, where there is an entire virtual economy flourishing. It is also a market where other global players such as Myspace, Youtube and even Google have either had to bow out or simply be content with a smaller pie of the market share. Will FB finally have enough clout to go against the likes of Cyworld?
Another question is what happens when (and if?) app revenues surpass that of Facebook?
Zynga (creator of Farmville, Mafia Wars and etc) which has 230 million monthly active users was reported to have revenues of $200 million in 2009. The WSJ says Facebook revenues could hit $710 million in 2010, so there’s still some distance between the two figures. Still, if a fair percentage of return visits are due to the addictive FB games, it remains to be seen if the gap will narrow.
Facebook: Your One stop Internet Destination
You’ve seen the stats. Early 2009, Zuckerberg quipped the most overused quotable line about how “If Facebook were a country, it would be the eighth most populated in the world, just ahead of Japan, Russia and Nigeria.”
Then, he was talking about 150 million people. It is now 2010. Techcrunch reports that Facebook now has something along the lines of about 350 million registered users, with over 175 million of them logging in daily.
That’s a whole lot of visits, a whole lot of eyeballs, a whole lot of power.
Enough power to simply change the FB layout AGAIN without word or warning. I hated it, but have since gotten used to it, since there wasn’t anything much I could really do about it (deja vu?). Everyone seems to have gotten used to the fact that we are all experimental guinea pigs, sigh and get on with our lives. And we still keep going back to the site.
And now, FB has its sights on Google, who apparently has 800 million visitors.
“According to Web measurement firm Compete Inc., Facebook has passed search-engine giant Google to become the top source for traffic to major portals like Yahoo and MSN, and is among the leaders for other types of sites.” – Source: SF Gate
You can also read more about how FB could kill Google here. The gist is that FB and Google are complementary for now (since FB is leading all those eyeballs to Google), at least, until unique visits for FB surpass that of Google. Microsoft last cut a (non exclusive)deal with FB in the last quarter of 2009 to include real time search results from status updates, but it remains unclear where FB may run with the search pie.
What are these sites to you?
Interestingly, at least for now, Google seems to resonate more with users in terms of the serious stuff – maps, translators, finance info, useful software like chrome/earth.. versus more of a slant towards entertainment and games on Facebook.
Many people still use the Google search bar as a place to type in URLs like Facebook.com (for reasons I can never fathom.. why they can’t type it directly into the actual URL bar is beyond me).
These results below do feature a bit on the importance of mobile as well – with the mobile related and FB lite mentions.
I’m still curious as to how all this will play out and how people will respond to all/any of these changes online… What will keep people coming back for repeat visits? Also, with all the talk on privacy and merging of identities on various platforms, something to explore in future posts!