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
giantâ€™s attempt to out-Facebook Facebook, reached 90 million user accounts by
mid-January 2012â€”a fraction of Facebookâ€™s 845 million users, true, but also a
number likely to increase as Google continues to pour in time and resources.
pundits have pointed to Googleâ€™s variety of servicesâ€”and an increasing willingness to share individual user data
across themâ€”as a potential point in the companyâ€™s favor as it battles Facebook.
But that advantage isnâ€™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 networkâ€™s â€œLikeâ€ button into its results. Thatâ€™s
the result of Microsoftâ€™s decision to evolve the platform by, in the words of
Bing director Stefan Seitz, â€œinfusing the emotional into it.â€
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 theyâ€™re
traveling to a new city, such as Paris, Bing can display which Facebook friends
live there. Bing will also present companiesâ€™ and brandsâ€™ Facebook postings,
alerting users to deals.
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.
gives Microsoft and Facebook a search engine, social network and
cloud-productivity hub to battle Googleâ€™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 Facebookâ€™s success against Google (and particularly Google+) could hinge on
its abilities to create a massive ecosystem of symbiotic partners. â€œI call
Facebook an ecosystem, or a mothership, or a microorganism,â€ Altimeter Group
analyst Rebecca Lieb told eWEEK.
â€œThere are so many companies using either its API or its advertising services,
and weâ€™re only going to see more of that.â€ Â Â