Google wants the data in Facebook and CEO Eric Schmidt isn't afraid to say that they'll find a way to get it.
Facebook isn't just winning the battle for web users' time (comScore says Facebook passed Google this month), they are also pulling some of Google's star engineers. Google (GOOG) has been offering huge bonuses to retain some of that talent but the bigger battle is getting the Google behemoth to be more social.
That's where Google is headed according to CEO Eric Schmidt who spoke yesterday Google Zeitgeist conference in Scottsdale, Arizona.
"We're trying to take Google's core products and add a social component. If you think about it, it's obvious. With your permission, knowing more about who your friends are, we can provide more tailored recommendations. Search quality can get better."
Although he downplayed copying Facebook's functionality directly, he made no bones about wanting Google users to have the same sort of Social Graph that Facebook enjoys.
How does Google intend to acquire that information? Google already has a great deal of connections information in Gmail/Google Talk/Contact/Buzz/YouTube databases, but it isn't nearly as clean and polished as Facebook's.
At the same time, Facebook passes Orkut in India.
As comScore reports that Facebook has inched past Google's Orkut in India, Google is adding some trivial features to its Orkut social networking service.
Orkut is still growing steadily (Myspace is declining) in India, but Facebook is blowing up at 10 times the rate as Orkut. That has to have some at Google worried.
Use of social networks in India grew 43 percent MORESeth Weintraub - Aug 25, 2010 12:09 PM ET
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