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Facebook奚落Google+门可罗雀

JP Mangalindan 2011年08月18日

Google为旗下新兴的社交网络服务Google+引进了休闲游戏,没想到却招来Facebook高管的风凉话。

    虽然谷歌(Google)推出社交网络服务Google+还不到两个月,但硅谷的火药味却越来越浓。

    6月,Google+上市,带来了创新的视频群聊功能Hangout。一周后,Facebook就宣布与微软(Microsoft)旗下的Skype合作,推出自己的视频聊天服务。上周,谷歌宣布将在Google+上引进《Zynga扑克》(Zynga Poker)和《愤怒的小鸟》(Angry Birds)等游戏。仅仅一天后,Facebook马上做出回应,对其游戏平台进行大幅改进,包括推出和Newsfeed类似的游戏更新实时播报功能并提高了游戏的分辨率。

    以前或许不明显,但现在种种迹象表明:Facebook首席执行官马克•扎克伯格正在密切关注Google+。

    在上周举行的一次活动中,负责Facebook游戏合作的主管肖恩•莱安对新竞争对手大放厥词。莱安表示:“谷歌模仿了我们的系统,当然,他们有权利这样做。我们只是需要做得更好。”莱安指的是两家公司从类似《虚拟农场》(Farmville)和《与朋友填字》(Words With Friends)等休闲在线游戏中获利的方式。玩家需要为游戏时间或游戏里的虚拟商品付费,社交网络公司则从销售额中提成。目前,据说Facebook从游戏开发商手中提成30%,而谷歌仅仅提成5%。

    两家公司的模式如此类似,难怪相互之间会产生摩擦。在上周的活动中,Facebook的莱安抱怨称,谷歌进军游戏界就好像麦当劳(McDonald's)最近开始提供顶级咖啡,与星巴克(Starbucks)展开肉搏一样。(麦当劳的这项业务现在变得越来越红火)。莱安揶揄谷歌称:“他们只抽取5%是因为没有任何用户。”谷歌并未回应这些评论,不过再次确认它确实计划从游戏制作者手中提成5%。

    两家科技巨头都把游戏视为争夺社交用户的新战场,这并非没有道理。根据研究与投资银行ThinkEquity的调查,到2014年,全球虚拟商品市场规模预计将增长超过一倍,达到203亿美元,而虚拟商品正是休闲游戏开发商最大的财源。市场调研与咨询公司Altimeter集团的首席分析师耶利米•奥杨指出,休闲游戏同样是触及大量优质受众的途径之一。奥杨称:“研究社交游戏的增长,会非常吃惊地发现绝大部分玩家竟是美国中西部地区的中年妇女,而在这些人中,蕴藏着大量广告机遇。”

    不过奥杨表示,无论Facebook还是谷歌都必须使出浑身解数。虽然Google+开局良好,但奥杨并不认为谷歌有十足的理由将主流用户从Facebook吸引到Google+。这就是谷歌宣布引进休闲游戏来吸引新用户的原因。奥杨还表示,Facebook对Google+的一系列措施无需反应过度,Facebook应该自己更为主动。

    Google+拥有大概2,500万注册用户,但要赶上Facebook的7.5亿用户还要很长的路要走,更何况Facebook游戏平台每月活跃用户人数高达100万。不过毋庸置疑地是,两家公司都可能都会继续密切关注对方的一举一动。

    译者:项航

    A little less than two months after Google launched its fledgling social network, Google+, Silicon Valley's latest rivalry is heating up.

    Google+ (GOOG) launched in June with an innovative group video chat dubbed Hangout. One week later, Facebook announced a video chat feature of its own in cooperation with Microsoft's (MSFT) Skype. Last week, Google announced that games like Zynga Poker and Angry Birds would find a home on Google+. A day later, Facebook unveiled a slew of improvements to its games platform, including a newsfeed-like live ticker with game updates and higher-resolution gaming.

    If it wasn't clear before, it is now: Facebook chief Mark Zuckerberg is paying very close attention.

    At an event last week, Facebook director of game partnerships Sean Ryan had some choice words for his new competitor. "Google has emulated aspects of our system, which is what they have the right to do," he said. "We just need to be better." He's referring to the way the companies make money from casual online games like Farmville and Words With Friends. Players pay for play time or virtual goods within the games, and the social networks take a cut of the sales. Currently, Facebook reportedly takes 30% from game developers, whereas Google takes just 5%.

    The similarities between the two models have obviously ruffled some feathers. At the event, Facebook's Ryan argued that Google's gaming foray was like McDonald's (MCD) recent efforts to offer premium coffee, competing in the same space as Starbucks (SBUX). (That business went on to become huge for McDonald's...) "Google is at 5% because they don't have any users," he said dryly. Google declined to comment on the statements, but confirmed the percentage it planned to take from game makers.

    There's good reason for the two technology giants to see games as a new front in their tussle for social users. The global virtual goods market -- arguably the largest revenue stream for casual games makers -- is expected to more than double to $20.3 billion by 2014 according to research and investment bank ThinkEquity. Jeremiah Owyang, a principal analyst for Altimeter Group, notes that it is also a way to reach a coveted demographic. "When we saw casual gaming growth, it was amazing to see that the most common gamer was a middle-aged woman in the Midwest, and there's a lot of advertising dollars associated with that," he says.

    But according to Owyang, both services have their work cut out for them. Google+ is off to a good start, but he doesn't think a compelling reason exists yet for mainstream users to switch over from Facebook. That's why the company announced it was going after casual games, to attract new users. Meanwhile, Facebook needs to be less reactive to Google+'s announcements and become more aggressive, he says.

    With an estimated 25 million registered users, Google+ has a long way to go before it catches up to Facebook's 750 million users -- not to mention the 1 million monthly active users already playing games there. What's clear is that both companies are likely to continue watching each other's moves closely.

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