Almost everyone recognizes Google as the king of the internet. But, as far as I see it, there is someone that is challenging Google for the crown; even if they don’t know it yet. In my opinion, Facebook has positioned itself to become that go-to website; the one that everyone uses as their homepage. You may think I am crazy, but it would not even take that much to accomplish this.
What does Facebook have that Google doesn’t?
Maybe the more appropriate question is, “what does Google have that Facebook doesn’t?” Well, from a business perspective, Facebook is missing a lot. Namely, the whole suite of Google Apps. But let’s put aside the business perspective and focus on the personal one. Because this is where I can see Google being replaced. On Facebook, you can send and receive messages from your friends, schedule events and post your photos. Now that sounds a lot like Gmail, Calendar and Picasa Web Albums. So getting back to my original question, it seems that Facebook has the social networking advantage.
“But wait,” you scream. There is Orkut! Well, you have a point. That is a social networking site that is owned by Google. But it is not integrated with the rest of the Google programs. In fact, the Google programs are barely integrated at all, save for a link bar at the top and a few odd features. With Facebook though, everything is tightly integrated and can be easily consumed on one unifying page. When your friend sends you a message, you can see who it is from, and click through to their profile. You can be tagged in a photograph and be notified about that. If you are invited to a party, you can see if some of your other friends are going too.
The Profile is the Key
The Facebook profile is what allows it to go beyond emailing and scheduling. It facilitates a more intimate connection with your contacts; in fact, they are not contacts, but friends. You don’t have a dull address book, but a vibrant collection of those friends. And speaking of friends, connecting to people is easier too. You don’t have to know some cryptic address; just their name. It is a simple but refreshing concept.
Even within your profile, you are connected to like minded people. All of your interests become links that you can click on. You are then presented a list of people with similar interests who you can in turn, ask to be your friends. With a profile, socializing on the internet becomes more intertwined.
How Facebook can challenge for the Crown
The UI design is already fantastic (as has been discussed on this site), but they just need to add some functionality. By my estimation, the focus should be on the messaging feature. By enhancing this aspect, Facebook would be taking leaps and bounds. It should be able to accept and send emails from off of the network and basically function like any other good email app. As it stands now, you need a separate email address where you receive these redundant messages telling you that you have a new message.
The photo uploads could also stand an improvement in the resolution, but other than that, it is already one of the best photo sharing services (thanks again to that profile connectedness). They also need to expand the calendar’s functionality, to include private and public calendars. And now with Applications, Facebook may have moved over that tipping point.
Will this really happen?
These changes are not that overwhelming. The features are already there in Facebook; they just need to be exploited. Now whether they would do this or not is another question. Would it be wise to challenge Google? If any company can transform itself to meet new competition it is Google. My point here is that Facebook does have a chance; it can move beyond the MySpace social network classification and become a new all encompassing service.
This post was written by J David Macor.