What started off as a bit of healthy competition is turning into quite a face-off.
First Facebook announced that it was launching Graph Search – a way of searching content from the social network’s one billion users which could prove to be a rival for Google+.
Now Google boss Larry Page has hit out at Facebook, saying it is “doing a really bad job” on its products. He also suggested Apple’s smartphone strategy wasn’t working.
The comments, which have just been published, were made to Wired magazine before Facebook’s latest development.
Thirty nine-year-old Page, who co-founded Google with fellow Stanford University student Sergey Brin in 1998, talks about whether having Facebook as a competitor influenced what the company did with its own social products.
Page, CEO of Google since 2001, said that wasn’t the way he thought about it, adding: “We had real issues with how our users shared information, how they expressed their identity, and so on. And yeah, they’re a company that’s strong in that space. But they’re also doing a really bad job on their products.”
He also said it wasn’t necessary for another company to fail for Google to succeed, explaining: “We’re actually doing something different.”
Despite commentators predicting Facebook’s Graph Search – a new feature which allows users to sift through pictures, posts and messages – could impact on Google+, Google’s own social product, which currently has 500 million users, Page said he wasn’t worried.
“A lot of it has been copied by our competitors,” he said, “so I think we’re going a good job.”
Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg is clearly very excited, and confident, about his new product, describing it as the site’s “third pillar,” after Timeline and News Feed, adding it was “really neat stuff”.
But Page isn’t phased by any extra competition, pointing out that when Google launched its search facility, it succeeded despite exciting competitors in the market.
“When we started with search,” said Page, “everyone said, ‘You guys are gonna fail, there’s already five search companies’. We said, ‘We are a search company, but we’re doing something different’. That’s how I see all these areas.”
And Page has hinted at exciting times ahead for Google, saying he is not afraid to make bold moves.
“Incremental improvement is guaranteed to be obsolete over time,” he said, “especially in technology where you know there’s going to be non-incremental change.”
Page also described his excitement about how Google’s smartphone operating system, Android, has progressed in recent years, so it seems clear we are going to continue seeing developments during 2013.
When it was pointed out to Page that Apple’s late founder Steve Jobs had vowed to “go to thermonuclear war against Android, the Google boss questioned: “How well is that working?”
Describing his business strategy, Page said: “You just have to have the conviction to make a long-term investment and to believe that things could be a lot better.”
So, while the battle of the technology giants was all about Apple and Samsung in 2012, it looks like the battlefield could become a whole lot bigger in 2013.