After yesterday's announcement of Yahoo intergating wih Facebook Connect, comes the news of Google and Twitter joining forces to allow Twitter integration with Google's Friend Connect.
John Battalle reads this as "Twitter, as in Not Facebook". On the opposite side, Marshall Kirkpatrick's take on it is "just like Yahoo bowed to Facebook, Google is bowing to Twitter".
I think I have a different view of this. Despite the timing of both transactions, they represent different strategies to me. Yahoo's move was a bow to Facebook, in favor of its users and the utility they extract from Yahoo, but eroding a strategic advantage Yahoo may have pursued through its massive reach.
Google's move, on the other hand, is less about bowing to Twitter. Twitter knows surprisingly little about its users, whereas Google knows a ton – thorough clickstreams, search behavior and Gmail. In fact, I'd say Google still owns a much larger chunk of the social graph than Twitter. What Twitter is great at is realtime and declared interests. And it's growing super fast.
This move by Google and Twitter makes me suspect even more my prediction yesterday. This alliance will allow Google to observe how Twitter helps its users and evaluate Twitter as a potential acquisiton target. It will also help Google to preserve some ground against Facebook, who has now clearly become the only contender to Google for ownership of the identity layer of the internet.
Today's announcement that Yahoo is integrating into Facebook Connect must have been accompanied with the sound of champagne bottles popping over at Facebook's headquarters. It's a big victory for Facebook as it advances towards ownership of the identity layer of the internet.
To be honest, I am a bit puzzled at the early concession by Yahoo. I am fuly convinced that by now Yahoo sees itself as a media company. It's obvious with its concentration on content. But, it also has an enormous amount of data on users and, through Yahoo Mail and Yahoo Groups, a nice chunk of the social graph. And I would have expected Yahoo to try to extract some value out of that.
What's weird is that Mashable is calling this:
"…a no-brainer for Yahoo, who has been trying for years to make its services more social on its own. Now, they’ll start to see some of the benefits that smaller publishers have seen from Facebook Connect (more comments, extra traffic from Facebook, etc.) on a massive scale."
That is ridiculous. Yahoo is not a small publisher. It's one of the first and greatest destinations on the internet. It's got as much traffic as Facebook and more members (500m vs Facebook's 350m). Why is Yahoo doing this? And isn't it ironic that the announcement is coming from Jim Stoneham, who's responsible for Yahoo communities?
Om agrees with me and sees Facebook as the big winner and Yahoo as the big loser here, and compares this move to Yahoo's deal with Google in terms of magnitude. I think this is actually a bigger deal. In search, Yahoo lost to Google's technology. It did not have much chance against Google. Whereas in this case, Yahoo's still got a ton of data (groups data, mail-related social graph, hotjobs-driven professional information, flickr's social graph, etc.) to be a contender in the identity layer game.
I expect the next move from Google. Facebook's got a lot of momentum and Google can not watch this passively. I'd predicted Twitter being bought in 2009. It was not. 2010 maybe?
In the last couple of days, both Bing and Yahoo announced their top search terms for 2010. Here they are:
- Michael Jackson
- Megan Fox
- Britney Spears
- American Idol
- Kim Kardashian
- Michael Jackson
- Swine Flu
- Stock Market
- Farrah Fawcett
- Patrick Swayze
- Cash for Clunkers
- Jon and Kate Gosselin
- Billy Mays
- Jaycee Dugard
While it's not really surprising that MJ topped both lists, I am blown away by how dissimilar the two lists are. Jackson is the ONLY common searched topic on the two search engines. Venture Beat has an explanation:
Perhaps that’s not surprising — Bing is a much newer service, and
probably appealed to a more tech-aware audience. Yahoo, on the other
hand, reaches more users
(though it plans to replace its underlying search technology with
Bing), and its list skews even more heavily towards celebrities and pop
But I don't buy it. Bing and Yahoo are both very mainstream search engines. I could expect a difference of this magnitude on Powerset, Hakia or Wolfram Alpha, but the difference leads me to suspect that maybe there is a difference in methodologies.
I am looking forward to Google's Yearend Zeitgeist to see how that compares.