Facebook vs. Google: The battle for the future of the Web

Posted in: Internet Use/New Technologies at 04/11/2011 15:03

[Fortune] ... In the long history of tech rivalries, rarely has there been a battle as competitive as the raging war between the web's wonder twins. They will stop at nothing to win over whip-smart folks like Adams, amass eyeballs, and land ad dollars. There's no public trash talking à la the Oracle vs. HP smackdown, nor are the battle lines drawn as clearly as they were when Microsoft took on Netscape, but the stakes are immense. These companies are fighting to see which of them will determine the future of the web -- and the outcome will affect the way we get information, communicate, and buy and sell.

In one corner is Facebook, the reigning champion of the social web, trying to cement its position as the owner of everyone's online identity. In the other is Google, the company that organized the world's information and showed us how to find it, fighting to remain relevant as the Internet of hyperlinks gives way to an Internet of people.

Although Larry Page, Google's co-founder and its CEO since April, was born just 11 years before Mark Zuckerberg, his counterpart at Facebook, the two belong to different Internet generations with different worldviews. In Page's web, everything starts with a search. You search for news or for a pair of shoes or to keep up with your favorite celebrity. If you want to learn about a medical condition or decide which television to buy, you search. In that world, Google's algorithms, honed over more than a decade, respond almost perfectly. But in recent years the web has tilted gradually, and perhaps inexorably, toward Zuckerberg's world. There, rather than search for a news article, you wait for your friends to tell you what to read. They tell you what movies they enjoyed, what brands they like, and where to eat sushi.

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