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王者之争:Facebook与谷歌决战未来(上)

Miguel Helft/Jessi Hempel 2011年11月04日

为了千百亿美元的利润和统治网络世界,两大技术巨头的对抗愈演愈烈。

    网络向社交化的转变在方方面面改变着公司和消费者。最先受到冲击的行业包括广告业。目前,美国310亿美元在线广告市场中,谷歌的份额达到41%,而且在搜索广告市场,谷歌一直雄踞榜首。但搜索广告的增长正在放缓,广告商开始将有限的资金投放到Facebook。毕竟,Facebook拥有8亿用户,而且许多用户在Facebook上停留的时间远远超过其他网站。(见页底图表)预计今年Facebook的显示广告收入将增长81%,而谷歌显示广告收入的增长幅度预计为34%。虽然谷歌和Facebook让我们认为两家公司仍有无限的成长空间,但千万不要被这种假象所迷惑。正如美国投资银行Stifel Nicolaus的分析师乔丹•罗翰所说:“如果谷歌与Facebook不直接交锋,抢占对方的市场份额,它们根本不可能达到投资者的期望,在显示广告市场实现数十亿美元的增长幅度。”

    现在的佩奇就像十几年前的比尔•盖茨,他发现公司对科技世界的统治力正在下降。所以他决定反击,投入巨大的精力争夺社交网络市场。佩奇成为谷歌CEO后的第一把火便是推出Google+,加大财力和工程力量的投入,对Facebook的领地展开攻势。其实Google+并非谷歌在社交网络进行的首次尝试,但却是谷歌第一款没有遭到业界嘲弄的社交产品。谷歌称,仅仅四个月内,Google +的注册用户便达到4,000万人。而在另一方,扎克伯格也非常清楚,自从Facebook轻松超越MySpace成为全球最大的社交网站以来,Google+是Facebook遇到的第一个真正意义上的威胁。(对Facebook而言,这不仅仅是荣誉之争:如果公司的光环受到威胁,将会影响其期待已久的首次公开招股。预计公司IPO规模将超过800亿美元。)于是,在Google+发布后不久,扎克伯格便在总部紧急挂出粉红色霓虹灯信号,上面写着“戒备状态”,目的是要提醒员工需要不分昼夜,加班加点,借鉴Google+中最受欢迎的部分功能。

    但防守并非扎克伯格的风格。今年9月,在公司的F8开发者大会上,他推出了海量的新功能,旨在从根本上提高目前的服务水平。而且,预计公司最终将会推出一个广告网络,管理所有社交行为,帮助广告商在网络中更有效地锁定目标客户。如果这一策略得到完美执行,将会进一步威胁谷歌在在线广告领域中的霸主地位。

    所以,当大多数用户轻松游走于Gmail账户和在Facebook订阅的新闻资讯之间时,在旧金山半岛的核心地段,正在进行一场激烈的战争。今年夏天,扎克伯格为愿意在周末加班的员工提供免费食物。而佩奇则催促他的团队以近乎疯狂的速度为Google+添加新功能:在前90天内推出了100个新功能。他们现在的决定,包括产品发布、广告推广等,将会决定最终的胜者。

    谷歌

    拉里•佩奇很不高兴。当时是去年春天的一个周末,38岁的佩奇正在安卓(Android)手机上试用Google+的早期样品。他发现把拍摄的照片发布到Google+中的程序过于繁琐。于是他打电话向谷歌社交业务负责人维克•刚铎抱怨。刚铎向他解释了Google+团队为什么要采取那种方法,试图说服他。但佩奇坚持认为,照片应该一键上传。在谷歌,佩奇的要求都会得到满足。于是,刚铎命令团队重新设计照片上传功能,现在,佩奇对这项技术赞不绝口。近期,他向外界描述通过安卓系统向Google+发布照片是多么简单:“这绝对是神奇的体验。”

    This shift to a more social web changes everything for businesses and consumers alike. Among the first industries to be rocked: advertising. Google may capture 41% of today's $31 billion U.S. online advertising market, including the lion's share of the search-ad market. But growth in search advertising is slowing, and advertisers are putting more of their limited dollars into Facebook, with its 800 million users, many of whom spend more time on Facebook than on any other site. (See chart at the bottom of the page) Facebook's display-ad revenue is expected to grow 81% this year, while Google's display-ad dollars will rise an estimated 34%. Google and Facebook would have you believe there is room for each to drive forward with unlimited success, but don't be fooled. As Stifel Nicolaus analyst Jordan Rohan explains, "It's highly unlikely that either Google or Facebook could grow by the billions that investors expect in the display market without engaging directly and stealing market share from the other."

    Like Bill Gates a decade or so earlier, Page is seeing his company's grip on the tech world loosening. So he's fighting back with a mammoth effort to grab a piece of the social web. His first substantial act as Google's new CEO was to amp up the considerable financial and engineering mojo the company had aimed at Facebook's turf by releasing Google+. It's not Google's first social initiative, but it's the one that folks aren't laughing at, and Google says 40 million people have signed up in only four months. Across town Zuckerberg knows Google+ is the first credible threat Facebook has faced since it sailed past MySpace to become the world's No. 1 social network. (For Facebook there are more than bragging rights at stake: Anything that tarnishes its halo could impact its long-awaited initial public offering with a valuation that is expected to top $80 billion.) Not surprisingly, shortly after Google+ made its debut, Zuckerberg flipped on a pink neon sign at headquarters with the word lockdown, signaling that employees were on notice to work around the clock on, among other things, replicating some of the most praised Google+ features.

    But defensive moves are not Zuckerberg's style, and in September, at the company's F8 developers event, he unleashed a sea of new features that alter the current service radically. And it's expected the company will launch an ad network eventually that will harness all those social actions to help advertisers target consumers better across the web. Smartly deployed, it could further threaten Google's position as the king of online advertising.

    So while most of us spend our days casually toggling back and forth between our Gmail accounts and our Facebook newsfeeds, down in the heart of the San Francisco Peninsula it's war. Zuckerberg served free food this summer to willing workers on the weekends. Page is pushing his team to add features to Google+ at a furious pace: more than 100 in the first 90 days. The decisions that are being made right now -- product launches, advertising plays -- will determine which company prevails.

    Google

    Larry Page was not pleased. It was a weekend day last spring, and Page, 38, was playing around with an early prototype of Google+ on his Android phone. He found it too cumbersome to post photos he had just taken. He called Vic Gundotra, Google's social czar, to complain. Gundotra tried to push back, explaining why the Google+ team decided on the approach it had taken. Page insisted that photos be uploaded with one click. At Google, what Page asks for, he gets. Gundotra ordered his team to rebuild the photo-uploading feature, and Page now gushes about the technology. "It is a totally magical experience," he said recently, as he described how easy it is to post photos from Android to Google+.

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