Googlers vs Xooglers: Are Smarts the X Factor?

June 28, 2010

There are lots of Xooglers now. Some are at little-known outfits with pals in the Pentagon. Some are now financiers or pundits. And some others are working at Facebook. I have watched how the Xooglers at Facebook have managed to emulate some of Google’s more interesting characteristics such as zigzagging around user security settings and pushing into the uncharted world visible to lesser mortals. I have also found some surprising insights such as skipping the 1998 approach to relevance by embracing the social network’s predilections.

I was interested in The Snitch’s write up about Web rock star Kevin Rose. Mr. Rose, a former business magazine cover personality, and podcast/meet up superstar. The article was “Is Google About to Launch a Facebook Killer? Kevin Rose Says So.” The idea is that there is a rumor, apparently Velcroed to Mr. Rose about Google’s Facebook killer.



Let’s think about these “killers”. You know about these digital Ebolas: the Microsoft Word killer, the Oracle killer, the iPod killer, and so on. In my experience, when someone suggests that another company – usually gasping in second place or even farther behind in a market race – a sure fire way to keep the credibility is to get associated with a “killer”.

I am an old, addled goose. I am increasingly amused by the monopolization that occurs in digital markets. Decades ago, I pointed out in a series of columns for Information World Review that information pools and beckons handling in the way power companies and water companies operate. The infrastructure and captured customers eliminate competition because life is easier for the consumer.

Don’t believe me? That’s okay. You, gentle reader, are probably younger, smarter, and more hungry than this goose. But look around. Apple is in a pretty good position when it comes to high margin computers and gizmos that make teens and college students drool. Google owns the Web search and online advertising sector. The much maligned Microsoft owns the enterprise desktop no matter what a Zoho or Google PR person says. Want to buy a book online? You know the place to go: Amazon. There are other examples ranging from IBM in big companies to outfits like AT& and Verizon for “real telephony”.

Now what about Facebook? Facebook is an easy target because it has made * lots * and lots of mistakes. And what’s happened? Well, the company keeps on stumbling forward. Facebook is doing ads with the “member” angle to make the demographic information somewhat more interesting to advertisers. Facebook allegedly will offer a more robust search service, ignoring the old fashioned Google approach and taking the more Microsoftian short cut to get the sites that users find useful.

Will Google roll out a service that is a Facebook killer? Well, maybe, but I think the Google’s handling of its Wi Fi issue, the Buzz bumble, and Google’s seeming inability to dampen the growing interest in Google by government officials around the world suggest that failure is a possibility.

My view is that the Facebook Google intersection is more about Googlers and Xooglers than right or wrong. My theory is that the great Googlers have jumped ship. Now an intellectually diluted Google is having to do battle with the brains that once labored for Messrs. Brin and Page. Facebook might be surviving because it now has smarter people turning the knobs and dials. Google’s missteps might be an indication that lesser intellects are now running the Google electric train.

Great rumor. If true, will Google catch up to Facebook? My view is that Google is chasing Facebook in the way that Microsoft is chasing Google. Google was a leader in social networking with its Orkut service. What happened there? Did Google learn from its experience? With Facebook growing rapidly, why is it taking Google so long to respond? What about those 500 million users? What about that loyalty and stickiness of Facebook users? What about that growing volume of Facebook video? Hmm. What about that Orkut service?

Stephen E Arnold, June 28, 2010



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