Despite my snobish insistence on refraining from “any and all things Facebook” — I waste so much time on the IntraWebs as it is, I’m afraid of what might happen if I added FB to the mix — I could not let this story pass by without comment:
Social networking website Facebook has capped a year of phenomenal growth by overtaking Google’s popularity among US internet users, with industry data showing it has scored more visits on its home page than the search engine.
In a sign that the web is becoming more sociable than searchable, research firm Hitwise said that the two sites accounted for 14 per cent of all US internet visits last week. Facebook’s home page recorded 7.07 per cent of traffic and Google’s 7.03 per cent.
Orthodox. Faithful. Free.
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It is the first time that Facebook.com has enjoyed a weekly lead over Google.com.
To some extent, this seems like an “apples and oranges” comparison. “Social networking” and search engines serve very different purposes without that much overlap, and the report is quick to point out that this is simply for Google.com. Add in GMail, Google Maps, and any searches using the toolbar, and Google’s “market share” moves back to the top.
Still, Google is clearly feeling the heat. How else could one explain the rather odd Buzz feature?
And this sort of fact does not bode well when one considers Google’s prospects for long-term dominance:
Internet users worldwide spent more than five-and-a-half hours a month on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter in December 2009, an 82 per cent increase over the previous year, according to the Nielsen Company research firm.
US users spent nearly six-and-a-half hours on Facebook compared with fewer than two-and-a-half hours on Google.