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Google scared of Facebook? Puh-leeze

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I have to say that until now I thought Josh Quittner was a pretty smart guy.

He was at Business 2.0 magazine for quite awhile, and was editor when the whole shebang went down in flames not too long ago, and was an early convert to the blogs-as-media idea after Om Malik left. But the piece he just wrote for Fortune about how Facebook “has Google running scared” is pathetic.

I’m not saying that to be mean — but I hope the editors at Fortune (assuming there are any) really torqued his piece, because it’s just sad. It’s not just the odd part here or there either; it’s the whole thesis. Why is Google running scared of Facebook? Well, let’s see — it’s got lots of users, and it’s growing really fast, and several people have left Google and gone to work for Facebook.

I guess Larry and Sergey might as well close up shop and sell those planes then. Oooh, and one of the people who left was an engineer. They’re really hard to come by in Silicon Valley — and Google only has, well… about 3,000 more left.

But the biggest threat Quittner mentions (apart from the fact that Facebook “isn’t for sale,” which doesn’t seem like anything to be scared of really) is that Facebook is the leader in what Josh calls “the Innernet” — where people control who gets to see what information, and where the site protects you from all the bad stuff and bad people out in the Wild West of the Internet.

I remember another place that did pretty much the same thing, and it too seemed really big at the time: it was called America Online. In retrospect, it doesn’t seem like that big a deal any more.

Then Quittner says that Facebook is also a threat because of its widget platform, and that apps like Super Wall — which was created in a single weekend — have developed a “user base” of 10 million in no time at all. As he puts it:

“That’s a real economy (or could be, if someone figured out how to make money from it).”

Oh yeah — it’s a real economy. Except for the fact that, well, no one has figured out how to make money from it. Of course, making money is kind of central to most economies, but you know — whatever. Man, Google must really be quaking in their boots! They’d better buy Facebook for $10-billion or so right now.

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