The business press loves to frame things, because frames make a nice presentation, even if they’re not always factual.
At the same time, it can be a mistake to take a corporate titan at his word. Let’s have a look at Eric Schmidt’s word, delivered in Davos, Switzerland, home of the World Economic Forum.
“We have a competitor called Microsoft,” he said. “Microsoft has more cash, more engineers, more global reach. We see competition from Microsoft every day.” Facebook, on the other hand, “has clearly stated they don’t want to get into the search business. Facebook users tend to use Google search. Facebook’s ads business does not displace our advertising. I’m somewhat perplexed by the obsession because I don’t think the facts support it. Things are going great for Google.”
I’m a little confused by Schmidt’s claim that Facebook isn’t interested in search. As a parallel Internet, like AOL of old, Facebook users search within Facebook. In other words, if it’s not happening inside of Facebook, it must not be all that important. Interestingly, Google doesn’t index much of the activity inside Facebook, further reinforcing the duality.
Here is Andrew Ross Sorkin’s take on the supposed rivalry:
The battle between the two Web giants could be seen as much a battle between philosophies as it is between products. The algorithmic approach of Google or the network-driven model — that relies on us surrendering more and more of our privacy — of Facebook.
What does this competitive landscape look like from a user’s perspective? I use information age products from Apple, Microsoft, Google and Facebook every day, and not all my brand experiences are happy ones.
Apple stores are too crowded and the shelves are not stocked with all the things a person might need, just the latest most expensive things a person might want. Microsoft wants me to fork over $149.99 for the latest Office for Mac upgrade ($279.99 if you want the version with Outlook, which I do not). Google owns YouTube and I’m outraged at YouTube for shutting down my account over supposed copyright violations (wrong!) and then providing zero means for me to counter, or to speak to anyone about the company’s violation.
Which brings us to Facebook. Are they mining my data like a banshee? Of course they are, but I don’t find that nearly as annoying as the above examples.