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We’ve often heard, that Google and Facebook are seen to be in direct competition. Unless the “direct competition” spoken of refers to the mindspace occupied by the companies, people often wonder how a search company can be in competition with a social media company. But if you think about it, this isn’t really difficult to conceive of.

It would be difficult for the provider of any online information or service, to top a search engine in user traffic: search engines are our first port of call when we open a browser. For the first time though, social networking sites are pulling in more visitors, then even the search engines. Once an Internet portal has an irresistible product, it brings power that allows it to change the very way the Internet is run. For instance, YouTube has achieved a certain critical mass of videos on such a variety of subjects, and that there are a good number of young people who feel no need to search on Google to read about anything. They just search on YouTube, for a video on the subject they are interested in. In fact, YouTube is now the second largest search engine after Google.

So what happens if the social media sites become so enormously popular, that even search begins to take second place? To begin with, people would be subscribing to updates on Twitter and Facebook, more than RSS ever succeeded in getting us to do. Perhaps the very concept of the browser would be threatened. And just as free access to all the newspapers of the world is driving publishers of physical books and papers to bankruptcy, and throwing up protests of how quality in publishing will suffer, free access to information on people’s Facebook and Twitter feeds, would perhaps send up another wave of protests that there will be no way of determining quality, if people begin to look directly to sharing with Internet friends, as a way to gain basic knowledge. Such a fundamental game changer, would shake up the established business plan that Google controls now.