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Friday, November 02, 2007

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Alex Tolley

I think that this is a different situation entirely. The GeekPhilosphy item is flawed - what riled MS was that Andreesen wanted the browser to become the desktop. This was a direct assault on the MS Windows hegemony. Whatever one feels about this, today is is clear that the browser as interface is slowly beginning to make sense. A web portal is just like a mini-desktop. Various approaches to extending this are being built, with the browser presence being pushed to the background. It wouldn't surprise me to see a windowless, full-screen browser become the defacto desktop in the future, with various online applications being accessed within it. That would seriously undermine Windows, and the basis of MS business.

Facebook is not doing that to Google. The only threat social sites have to Google is to bypass the Google ad revenue model in some way - I don't see that happening. Facebook does compete with Google's social network site, but I don't see a failure of the Google site or initiative as threatening to Google.

In summary, I don't see this as the deja vu that you do.

Michael Parekh

Good points, Alex.

Although Facebook is a long way from threatening Google's ad revenue model today, one could theoretically make a case that it could do so down the road, with hundreds of millions FB users opting in as it were for personalized advertising for products and services via their FB profiles.

And remember, FB is likely to have ambitions to try and make this happen both on and off the FB network, just as Google does with Adwords and Adsense today.

Again, it's a long ways way, and A LOT of execution is needed.

Interestingly enough, we need to remember that although Microsoft was already a dominant provider of PC operating systems by 1995-6, it's Windows dominance was still in the process of ratcheting up with the release of Windows 95.

In that way, it's a bit similar to where Google is with it's 60% plus share of search advertising, with it's ambitions in personalized advertising going forward.

The last bit of deja vu is that Google is losing some coveted talent to Facebook, just like Microsoft was starting to do to Netscape over a decade ago.

Alex Tolley

"although Microsoft was already a dominant provider of PC operating systems by 1995-6, it's Windows dominance was still in the process of ratcheting up with the release of Windows 95."
Windows on the desktop was not just dominant, is was the de facto PC OS. IBM had just fluffed its OS2 introduction. Apple was on its deathbed, prior to Jobs returning two years later in 1997. Linux was unusable for anyone but a diehard Unix geek. DOS was dying very quickly, as shown by the demise of the software companies who had not transitioned to Windows 3.x
Servers were still relatively virgin territory as far as MS was concerned, with NT server, but various Unix flavors were still hugely dominant, hpunix, solaris, AIX.

Let's suppose for a moment that you are correct that Facebook has ambitions to not only be a social networking site that gets ad revenue from click through ads,but wants to compete with Google in targeting the ads to maximize revenue. This would take an enormous amount of capital and execution. Wouldn't they preferentially use Google's ad technology to do this, rather than try to build their own competing engine? They might cut a deal that would extract some of Google's revenue for being a large site and offering data that Google could use.

"The last bit of deja vu is that Google is losing some coveted talent to Facebook, just like Microsoft was starting to do to Netscape over a decade ago." Working in a big, faceless company can suck. MS has been losing talent for a long time, and let's face it, what does an engineer get to do at MS that is exciting? Googlers are in the same position - you can work on tweaking the search engine, maybe even work on something new that has a chance of getting into production. But I've been over to the Campus, and while the food free and very good, the price is to work long and late, and for what? So yes any new, new thing will attract good engineering talent, especially if there is a chance to make it big with stock options by being in at an early stage. That is the story of the valley.

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