Google and Facebook get personal in battle for social networking rewards
Launch of Google+ sees the online giants in a fight for the highly lucrative hearts and minds of internet users
It is one month since the launch of Google+, a belated attempt at a social networking tool that invites users to follow friends' activities in their news feed and share favourite content by marking it "+1". If this sounds familiar, it shows the extent to which Google is playing catchup with Facebook, which is brewing a public offering next year that could value the firm at $100bn and, critically, has positioned itself as the gateway to the web for many of its 750 million users.
Yet though Google and Facebook are both keen to burnish their scientific credentials, ultimately the real battle is over cold, hard cash. Google made 97% of its revenues, or $32.3bn, in the past 12 months from advertising. eMarketer, meanwhile estimates that Facebook's largely ad-generated revenues will grow from $0.74bn in 2009 to $5.74bn in 2012 – yet the site has hardly begun rolling out truly personalised, targeted advertising. If there is any of Google's lunch to be eaten, it is here.