Is Google About to Squash Facebook and Twitter?

Gmail goes nuclear

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In the latest issue of Vanity Fair, Michael Wolff predicts that Facebook will go public this year and "provoke the ultimate superpower" war with Google. He envisions a "face-off" between the companies as they compete to become more ingrained in individuals' everyday lives.

As though on cue, Google appears to be throwing the first punch this week. The Wall Street Journal reports that the search giant is adding features to Gmail to render Facebook and Twitter obsolete. The changes will allow Gmail users to "view a stream of status updates from people they choose to connect with." It will also be integrated with YouTube and Google's photo-sharing site Picasa.

Will this pose a significant threat to Facebook and Twitter? Two prominent tech bloggers come to opposite conclusions.

Mark Evans, a blogger and tech consultant gives three reasons why Twitter is vulnerable to Google's latest endeavor:

1. Despite Twitters' large user base - 50 million or so around the world - it's growth appears to be slowing ... This may suggest that Twitter as a standalone service has reached a saturation point.

2. GMail's popularity provides Google with a huge potential market to launch a Twitter-Killer...

3. GMail is also a excellent demonstration of how Google has been able to break into new markets.

Countering Evans, tech developer Robert Scoble says Facebook and Twitter are on firm ground.

1. Facebook has a defensible position in identity. Visit Huffington Post, or tons of other sites, and you'll see the hooks that Facebook has that Google is NOT going to be able to rip out tomorrow ...

2. Google isn't trusted socially. Google is so large and has so much of our data that lots of us really don't want Google to beat up on Facebook or Twitter.

3. Google doesn't have Mark Zuckerberg. Mark gets how to hook people in through social tricks that very few people understand. ... He studies how people work and how they get addicted to things at a level that Google's founders struggle to understand. ...

4. Google has big company disease that Twitter never had. Watch Google tomorrow to integrate tons of services together in a way that looks like FriendFeed or Facebook. ... For all its sins (and Twitter has many sins) it has stayed pure and hasn't strayed from 140-characters of text only.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.