Every few years, the world sees a good rivalry. In the 1980s, it was Hulk Hogan Vs. Rowdy Roddy Piper. In the 1990s, a person was either East Coast Hip-Hop, or West Coast Hip-Hop. And in the early 2000s, we saw the RedSox (on their march to the World Series) miraculously win four games in a row against old time rival, The New York Yankees.
Now is a new era. The great rivalries aren’t over feats of strength, they aren’t measured by wins or top-selling albums; they’re measured in bits and kilobits, RAM and user-appeal. The two titans of the hour are Facebook and Google, Internet Goliaths bent on each other’s destruction. Well, maybe it’s not that epic, but the rivalry is there all the same.
Facebook has been having a little trouble lately. First, was the IPO disaster earlier this year. Starting off with an IPO of $38 a share, it has seen a precipitous drop ever since, and currently is trading for about half that. If that weren’t enough, now it’s getting pelted with a $15 billion privacy lawsuit. Poor Zuckerberg, it’s hard to “like” that status.
But, Facebook still has a lot going for it. For the time being at least, it is still the undisputed leader in social networking. With almost one billion networking users, it nearly doubles the second place leader (Twitter). Additionally, ad revenue is expected to increase this year, and for the foreseeable future. Facebook has also insinuated that expanding into the world of search engines might be a path down the road.
The social media took some hits this year, it’s true, but they seem poised to readjust and come back as strong as ever.
Google has some disadvantages of its own in this battle for Internet supremacy. As Google tries to introduce its own take on social networking, it has a mighty hill to climb. Google+ only boasts about 1/5 of the users as Facebook, and it’s not winning any popularity contests either. Facebook has substantial footing in the social networking world, and it’ll be tough to knock it off the pedestal.
So what does Google have? Well for starters, Google tops the charts in search engine popularity. The recent Bing commercials taking aim at Google justify the claim that Google is top dog. Next, Google’s revenue is almost ten times higher than Facebook’s. That’s a lot of dough. And, it has been reported that they will be increasing their share of the display-ad market in the coming years, which should further fatten the pocketbook.
As the two companies start creeping into each other’s territory, and given the litigious nature of these two giants, the rivalry itself could leave the Internet and enter the courts to be settled by business dispute lawyers in New York. Of course they could just exist peacefully. Yeah, right. That’s what Hogan probably thought in 2002 just before Piper came out of retirement to bash him with a steel pipe. Google and Facebook should heed the lessons of their predecessors; always keep one eye over your shoulder because the rival is always waiting.