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Who will win the Google Facebook Tussle
Part II: Facebook and Google are Apple and Microsoft of post-Web Tech rivalry

Flickr Image by Sam Steiner
Continued from Facebook and Google are Apple and Microsoft of post-Web Tech rivalry
In the last tussle between Windows and Mac - Windows won with a landslide majority - but there were to many variables.

Apple got lost in its focus for a decade (after its visionary founder Steve Jobs was summarily expelled by the board from the company), which helped Microsoft evangelize developers to its platform. Piracy was rampant, making Windows one of the most pirated and hence most used software. Microsoft's dominance allowed it to "buy out" other markets like the initial browser market. Apple's hardware was overpriced due to its reluctance to adopt commodity hardware (ref: Intel processors).

But the current tussle is nothing like the previous one.

The initial success of Facebook has created pressure on Google to abandon the "open" philosophy so that now it is linking most other Google properties with its competitor social network Google Plus. This is quite detrimental - because many users would rather stick with Google services because it allows them the freedom to access them without being surrounded within the walled garden.

However, with the success of Android, advocates of Open Systems within Google have got a shot in the arm. And the recent challenge faced by Facebook in monetizing its "closed" user base - especially on the mobile platform might result in the tide turning in favour of Google again. But Google has a long way to go and more importantly has a tough battle with its shareholders (who will expect quarterly revenue jumps and advocate 'killing the golden goose' i.e. user base), which will insist that Google too closes its ecosystem to "encash" its user base.

Another risk which might turn the table is an impending entry of Facebook into the mobile OS market with its competitor to Android. A milder strategy for Facebook could be riding on Windows 8 platform as a stategic partner to compete with Google's Android.

The decision makers in this tussle will be the users of these online services, but the king makers will invariably be the developers. Users will flock to platforms which provide more "applications"; and platforms which make friends with developers will have more applications. In this context, Google clearly is a winner right now. Facebook's developer base which creates applications on top of its platform - which includes using FB's Single Sign-on and comments engine as well as FB Games and apps - is still minuscule compared to the Android developer base.

More so, most Facebook applications are clones of their parent services which are offered through native web-sites. While it is not fair to compare these with Android apps - but the combined with Google App Engine, Chrome Web Store - the current mix of apps created by developers on Google's platforms is far richer and original.

Being a Google fan myself - my view above might be a little biased. But I see Google winning the war even if it looses the battle over locking and milking the user base. 10 years later, we might find more users "logging in" to Facebook than Google plus but the number of users who will use technology and platforms owned or created by Google will be far higher in number - even if users do not "login" to Google to access them. And that, might be a befitting outcome of the tussle of Open and Closed philosophies where Open as always wins hands down.


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