Facebook Has Microsoft Ally in Google Battle

Facebook’s initial
public offering will hand the social network billions of dollars to spend on
future projects, and turn many of its employees into millionaires or

It will also
intensify competition with Google, which desperately wants to establish an
outsized presence in the social-networking realm. Google+, the search-engine
giant’s attempt to out-Facebook Facebook, reached 90 million user accounts by
mid-January 2012—a fraction of Facebook’s 845 million users, true, but also a
number likely to increase as Google continues to pour in time and resources.

Analysts and
pundits have pointed to Google’s variety of services—and an increasing willingness to share individual user data
across them—as a potential point in the company’s favor as it battles Facebook.
But that advantage isn’t an asymmetrical one: Facebook can rely on its
deepening relationship with Microsoft to provide some added heft outside its
walled, everything-blue garden.

Bing search engine likes Facebook. It likes Facebook so much, in fact, that the
search engine bakes the social network’s “Like” button into its results. That’s
the result of Microsoft’s decision to evolve the platform by, in the words of
Bing director Stefan Seitz, “infusing the emotional into it.”

Nor does the
collaboration end there. When Bing users search for a specific person, the
search engine can present Facebook information on the results page. If they’re
traveling to a new city, such as Paris, Bing can display which Facebook friends
live there. Bing will also present companies’ and brands’ Facebook postings,
alerting users to deals.

Microsoft is
leveraging its minority stake in Facebook in other ways. FUSE Labs, a company
incubator founded by now-departed Chief Software Architect Ray Ozzie, has
launched initiatives such as Docs.com, which allows Facebook users to create and share
Word, Excel and PowerPoint documents with .PDF support and full-text search.

Combined, that
gives Microsoft and Facebook a search engine, social network and
cloud-productivity hub to battle Google’s assets in those areas. Granted, Bing
trails Google in search-engine market share, and Docs.com (still in beta) is
unlikely to run roughshod over Google Apps. However, Facebook won’t have to
fight Google entirely alone.

In fact, much
of Facebook’s success against Google (and particularly Google+) could hinge on
its abilities to create a massive ecosystem of symbiotic partners. “I call
Facebook an ecosystem, or a mothership, or a microorganism,” Altimeter Group
analyst Rebecca Lieb told eWEEK.
“There are so many companies using either its API or its advertising services,
and we’re only going to see more of that.”   

Follow Nicholas Kolakowski on Twitter


Article source: http://www.eweek.com/c/a/Search-Engines/Facebook-Has-Microsoft-Ally-in-Google-Battle-229930/

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