Google v Facebook on at last
The recent launch of Google+ has finally scotched the suggestion that Google and Facebook are anything but direct competitors.
Back in January, Eric Schmidt, then CEO of Google, told reporters he was "perplexed" by constant stories about rivalry between the two big beasts of the online jungle.
Schmidt claimed that Facebook users tended to use Google search and that Facebook's ad platform hadn't displaced Google's own suite of ad-based products. Microsoft, he argued, was Google's big direct competitor.
"Microsoft has more cash, more engineers, more global reach. We see competition from Microsoft every day," Schmidt said.
Even before Google+ those claims seemed a little questionable. Google and Facebook are the top two sites in the UK, the US and here in Australia.
In the very least, Google and Facebook compete for eyeball time. If users are logged in to Facebook, sending messages, posting updates and playing Farmville, they're not on one of Google's various online properties and therefore not clicking on the ads.
Facebook and Google have also been battling it out for some time for the best talent – something that of course applies to the whole of Silicon Valley.
Now with Google+ up and running the level of competition has turned up a notch.
Google is striking right at the heart of Facebook's home turf, just as the world's largest social network is seeing user numbers plateau and even fall in some mature markets.
The punt being taken at Mountain View is that users are getting bored with Facebook and not bored with social networking in general.
With 20 million members already signed up, it's so far, so good for Google+. Just 680 million or so to go before it catches Facebook.