Why Facebook’s “Threat” to Google Is Overestimated

Anyone paying attention to the web industry has probably heard Facebook touted as the “one real threat to Google.” Facebook has reached more page views per day and more active users than Google. And now, with the injection of funds into Facebook from Goldman Sachs, the idea of Facebook as a Google-killer is re-emerging.

Here’s one of many such reports (this one from Adweek) But my point here isn’t to regurgitate false speculation. Rather, it’s time that this silly idea — that Facebook’s success is hurting Google — be put to rest.

Facebook, like Google, came into the world with stunning speed, quickly overtaking competitors and gaining a near monopoly in its market. What must be clear, however, is that Facebook’s market is not the same as Google’s. Facebook now reaches 70% of all internet users, which shows amazing growth since 2009. However, Google has also been growing during that time, and currently reaches 81% of the internet audience.

Back in the era of Rockefeller and Carnegie, we saw several of the richest figures alive, and these industry giants did it without stepping on each other’s toes. That’s because while Rockefeller was working with oil, Carnegie was working with steel, and so on down the line. Carnegie wasn’t a threat to Rockefeller; their territory, while vaguely related, didn’t overlap.

Additionally, while Google and Facebook can be seen to be mutually threatening one another thanks to their loyal user-base and large monetary resources, they don’t seem to cross borders. Facebook added more advanced messaging features and some search options, but they really only impact web search through partnerships. Google, meanwhile, failed to dent social networking during its Buzz fiasco.

Both Google and Facebook are powerful companies, and Facebook is quickly gaining territory. What users need to recall, however, is that the territory Facebook is gaining isn’t — and never has been — in Google’s empire.