Facebook, eBay dismiss Google threat

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According to Silicon Valley super-star Sean Parker, for Google to take the title of leading social network, Facebook would have to blunder in a big way.

During an interview to open the Web 2.0 Summit in San Francisco, Parker said, “Facebook would have to screw up royally and Google would have to do something really smart.”

Parker’s profile in Silicon Valley comes from his co-founding of controversial music-sharing service Napster.

Parker was also featured in the Academy award-winning film chronicling the creation of Facebook, The Social Network.

“It is tough to compete with network effects,” Parker said giving his thoughts on the threat posed to Facebook by Google+.

Google needs to get Facebook users to switch allegiances, then do the same with those people’s online friends, and those people’s friends, and so on, explained Parker, who is also a part owner part of Facebook.

Parker also admitted, however, that there was a danger of Facebook “power users”, behind attention-grabbing content, turning to rival online venues to escape drowning in a flood of posts.

Parker dismissed one major criticism of Facebook, saying, “I don’t think privacy is Facebook’s biggest problem”.

“The biggest problem is the glut of information that power users are overwhelmed with,” he continued. “Maybe the threat to Facebook is the power users have gone to Twitter or Google+.”

He supported Facebook improving ways for its approximately 800-million users to more selectively share posts, pictures or other information with one another.

Saleforce founder Marc Benioff described Parker as “one of the great prophets of our industry”. Saleforce has become a multi-billion-dollar poster child for cloud computing.

“Facebook, in many ways, is eating the web,” he continued in a talk at Web 2.0. “Facebook is becoming a vision of what the next-generation consumer operating system is.”

Online auction powerhouse eBay and its thriving financial transactions service PayPal also see strong “network effects” providing defence from Google’s growing commerce platform.

“I agree with Sean, network effects are powerful things,” eBay chief executive John Donahoe said during an on-stage interview at Web 2.0.

According to Donahoe, Google has an incredible online search and advertising platform and Facebook a widely embraced social platform, while eBay has an entrenched “e-Commerce” platform.

“The wall between eCommerce and retail is crumbling amazingly fast,” Donahoe said. “The large retailers are banging down our doors and saying ‘The world is changing; we need help’.”

eBay recently launched a PayPal Access online identity program and an open X.commerce platform for payments to let large and small businesses tap into internet age cashless transactions.

X.commerce is intended to match merchants with independent developers building innovative ways to handle check-outs at websites, inventories, calculating taxes and other aspects of running shops with online outlets.

PayPal Access, meanwhile, will let people use their Paypal names and passwords when shopping online.

According to eBay, there are more than 100-million PayPal accounts in 190 markets worldwide.

Google said last week that its online social networking challenge to Facebook is growing fast and has topped 40-million users.

“People are flocking to Google+ at an incredible rate and we are just getting started,” Google co-founder and chief executive Larry Page said during an earnings conference call.

Page said Google+ style social features will be “baked in” to the internet star’s other offerings.

The internet giant on opened Google+ to the public in late September as it ramped up its challenge to Facebook.

Google has also been beefing up its eCommerce platform and letting people use some Android smartphones to find local bargains and pay by tapping handsets on sensor pads at checkout counters. — AFP

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