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王者之争:Facebook与谷歌决战未来(上)

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。

    从许多方面来看,Google+就是拉里•佩奇的社交网站。Google+的开发工作早在佩奇担任公司CEO之前便已经开始,但他从一开始就密切关注项目的进展。最初几个月里,佩奇每周五上午11点都会参加项目团队的每周产品评测会议。为了密切跟踪项目进度,佩奇甚至把办公室和高管团队的主力都搬到Google+团队所在的大楼。他为项目提供了大量的资源,使其成为谷歌诞生13年以来最大规模的一次工程投入。此外,他还将刚铎提拔为公司高级副总裁,直接对他负责。佩奇还将数千名谷歌员工的一部分奖金与公司在社交业务上的表现挂钩。

    Google+也是佩奇为使谷歌恢复曾经的灵活、负责的态度而进行的第一次尝试,同时也是为了避免陷入“创新者的窘境”,这个曾经使许多成功的公司深陷困境的顽症。在Google+项目中,公司抛弃了以往放任自流,甚至是无秩序的创新方式,代之以自上而下的方式。谷歌另外一位联合创始人谢尔盖•布林表示,允许“百花齐放”对谷歌依然非常重要,但“在所有花都绽放之后,你会希望能把它们收集起来,做成紧凑的花束。”

    谷歌要实现在社交领域的野心或许确实需要一些这样的铁律。谷歌之前对Facebook领地进行的几次攻势均铩羽而归。2004年,几乎在Facebook面世的同时,谷歌就推出了第一个社交网站Orkut,但目前除了在巴西市场,Orkut网站早已被人遗忘。2007年,为了对抗Facebook,谷歌联合Myspace和其他社交网站,推出了社交网站开放式平台Open Social,结果也以失败而告终。两年后,谷歌又推出了Wave,但仅仅几个月之后便被打入冷宫。2010年,谷歌推出Buzz,试图将Gmail用户强行拉入社交网站,但很快这便成为谷歌在社交领域中的最大败笔:Buzz将人们的Gmail联系人公开给其他人,导致美国联邦贸易委员会(Federal Trade Commission)介入调查,并强制要求谷歌修改其隐私政策,同时必须接受政府监控,时长为20年。

    Buzz的惨败让谷歌警醒。谷歌内部一些最具影响力的工程师开始提出,社交网络将给谷歌带来致命的威胁。随着网络开始以人为核心,尤其是围绕Facebook的人际关系图进行重建,谷歌的影响力将被逐渐侵蚀,最终被时代所抛弃。这种论调让谷歌高层大为光火,于是,一个雄心勃勃的项目很快出炉。这个名为翡翠海(Emerald Sea)的项目不仅要让谷歌成为Facebook的强劲对手,而且要围绕社交媒体对谷歌现有的产品进行改革。(刚铎选择翡翠海作为项目代号,预示着全新的海岸线与暴怒的海水并存。)

    经过一年多的酝酿,今年6月份,谷歌终于推出了Google+。结果如何?这个社交网站针对用户的喜好,从Facebook中汲取精华,去除糟粕。你会发现Google+的主页与个人资料页、照片与游戏标签,当然还有无休止的好友更新都与Facebook非常类似。谷歌+1键的作用类似于Facebook的Like键。不过,Facebook一直因肆意践踏用户的隐私选择权而颇受指责,于是Google+则使用户可以自行决定其所发布内容的查看权限。Facebook无法清晰地将同事、同学和好友分开,而Google+则推出圈子功能,用户可以很直观地将关注对象进行分类。Zynga等应用开发商在Facebook平台上获得的收入,30%将属于Facebook所有,而Google+表示,目前其抽取的比例仅为5%。自从Google+推出以来,谷歌推出了100多个新功能,而且,佩奇表示未来还将推出更多新功能。在硅谷,几乎所有人都曾认为,谷歌根本无法与Facebook竞争,但Google+的表现却让所有人——包括Facebook的忠实拥趸——大跌眼镜。乔•格林就表示:“Google+非常出色。”乔•格林是扎克伯格在哈佛大学(Havard)的室友,他创办了慈善社交网站Causes,该网站开发的应用程序目前在Facebook上运行。

    译者:阿龙/乔树静

    In many ways, Google+ is Larry Page's social network. Early work on Google+ predated Page's ascent to the top post, but he has been intimately involved with the project from the start. In the initial months, Page dropped by every Friday at 11 a.m. for the group's weekly product reviews. To keep close tabs, Page moved his office and much of the executive suite to the building where the Google+ team was sequestered. He blessed the project with massive resources, making it one of the largest engineering endeavors Google has undertaken in its 13-year history, and he elevated Gundotra to the post of senior vice president, reporting directly to him. Page also tied a portion of the bonuses of thousands of Googlers to how well the company did in social.

    Google+ is also the first test of Page's plan to transform Google into the nimbler, more accountable company it once was, and in the process avoid the Innovators' Dilemma, the paralysis that grips so many successful companies. In the Google+ project, the company's freewheeling and sometimes chaotic approach to innovation was cast aside -- replaced with a more top-down style. Allowing a thousand flowers to bloom may still be important at Google, says Sergey Brin, the other co-founder, but "once they do bloom, you want to put together a coherent bouquet."

    Maybe some discipline is what Google's social ambitions needed. Google's previous attacks on Facebook's turf were an embarrassment. Orkut, Google's first social network, was born alongside Facebook in 2004 but is largely irrelevant outside of Brazil. Open Social, a Google-led effort in 2007 to rally MySpace and other social networks into an alliance to balance the clout of Facebook, flopped. Two years later Google introduced Wave, only to kill it after a few months, and Buzz, a 2010 attempt to shoehorn Gmail users into a social network, quickly turned into Google's biggest social faux pas: Buzz exposed people's Gmail contacts to others, triggering a Federal Trade Commission investigation that forced Google to revamp its privacy policies and accept government monitoring for 20 years.

    The Buzz fiasco was a wake-up call at Google. Some of its most high-profile engineers started making the case that the social web posed a vital threat to Google. As the web was being rebuilt around people -- and, in particular, around Facebook's graph of human relationships -- Google could end up on the sidelines, its relevance eroding by the day. The message rattled Google's top brass, and an ambitious project -- called Emerald Sea -- not only to create a credible rival to Facebook but also to transform Google's existing products around social media, quickly took shape. (Gundotra picked the name Emerald Sea to suggest both new horizons and stormy waters.)

    After more than a year of gestation, Google finally introduced Google+ in June. The result? A social network that cloned much of what people like about Facebook and eliminated much of what they hate about Facebook. You'll find familiar home and profile pages, tabs for photos and games, and of course the endless updates from friends. Google's +1 button works much like Facebook's Like. But where Facebook is perpetually accused of running roughshod over people's privacy preferences, Google+ made it very easy to decide who can see what users post on the site. Facebook lacked a good way to separate workmates from classmates from real friends, so Google+ was built around Circles, an intuitive way to group people in buckets. Facebook takes 30% of the revenue that app developers like Zynga make on its platform, so Google+ said it would take only 5% for now. Since the launch, Google has rolled out more than 100 new features, and Page says there is much more to come. In Silicon Valley, where everyone had given up on the idea that Google could compete with Facebook, Google+ caught everyone -- including Facebook loyalists -- by surprise. "Google+ was impressive," says Joe Green, one of Zuckerberg's Harvard roommates and the founder of Causes, an application built to run on Facebook.

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