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Subtle Facebook Message to Users Sends Big Message to Google

Facebook Wants to Be Users' Home Page

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When you get on the web, where is the first place you go? If you regularly close your browser, it’s whatever you have your home page set as. Is the page the destination of the majority of your online activity? If so, there’s a good chance you have Facebook set as your home page. Maybe it’s Google or Yahoo or Bing. 

Whatever it is, Facebook appears to be getting ready to make a big push to get users to switch their home pages to Facebook. The company is reportedly testing different messages for users, encouraging them to do so. Many of Facebook’s half a billion users are constantly logged into the site, and enhancing their experiences on many other sites on the web as a result already, so it stands to reason that many of these same users will take Facebook up on its offer, and just make the site their starting point. 

Should Google be worried? Tell us what you think

People are already spending a great deal of their time on Facebook. Some check their Facebook inbox, wall, or news feed before they check their email. Now with Facebook’s new messaging system and email addresses, even more will go to Facebook first. If the messaging stuff could be considered an assault on Google, this subtle move certainly could be as well. 

I don’t have a number for how many people have Google set as their home page, but I’m guessing it’s a pretty big one. It’s about to get smaller. Facebook’s only going to give people more and more reasons to keep Facebook as their entry to the web as well. Wait until Facebook payments become a standard way of making payments around the web, as they are likely to do eventually. 

Don’t be surprised if Google starts doing more to promote iGoogle, its customizable homepage, to stay in the forefront of users’ minds. They’re already doing more to promote Chrome, the company’s web browser, which is looking to be more and more a key component of Google’s overall strategy. What would happen if Facebook launched its own browser though? Rockmelt has essentially already done it for them (via Google’s own open source Chromium platform), but if Facebook promoted its own browser right from Facebook itself, that could be an incredible blow to Google as well. 

You might say Facebook doesn’t need to own the browser, because its presence is felt nearly everywhere on the web anyway, but if Facebook were able to phase Chrome out of users’ experiences, that’s one less weapon Google has in competing for user attention. 

But a lot of users’ web experience starts with search right? Well, Facebook is pretty tight with Bing. If Facebook were to launch its own browser, I wonder what the default web search option would be. Facebook has so far not indicated that it will launch a browser, but it is encouraging users to set Facebook as their home page, and Bing is the default web search there. Here, it’s going to be the on-page search competing with the browser search box (as well as Chrome’s omni-box). Bing might see a bump in search market share from this as well. The fact that users already have ways to search from their browser toolbars also decreases the need to have a search engine as a home page. 

The bottom line is that Facebook users have a lot of reasons to set Facebook as their home page. Their friends and family are there. Their messages are there. Their news feed (from friends, as well as any brand/publications they "like") is there. For gamers, their games are there. Their photos and videos are there. They can update their status from there. Their events are there. 

Note: Google has released a new product for Google Docs that may play a significant, indirect role in its battle with Facebook. More on that here.

Will you set Facebook as your home page? Do you already have it set? Let us know in the comments.

Subtle Facebook Message to Users Sends Big Message to Google
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  • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

    I think anybody who would have set their homepage to facebook would have done it already.

    Bing is a pretty good search engine when compared to Google, It seems to be less crowded as well, and I seem to get better rankings in that engine in many circumstances.

    However I highly doubt anyone using FB would neglect to use Google as their search. I don’t think it will sink in, Google has a strong brand.

    Maybe I am wrong, but I have not tired at all from using search yet, but have gone through several social media venues. I’m probably not the only one.

    • Chris Crum

      I’m sure many have already made FB their home page, but a simple call-to-action can be pretty effective, and I have no doubt that many more will switch when presented with that.

      • http://www.sitebyjames.com/ James

        Yeah, you are probably right, I am downplaying it. I’m definitely in denial.

  • Paul in NJ

    For many of us, tabbed browsing long ago made the concept of a single ‘home page’ obsolete. I have about 20 tabs open at any given time. Which means, in the context of this discussion, that they’re all my home page.

    • Chris Crum

      I hear you. I actually wrote an article about a home page-focused Yahoo campaign a while back, in which I questioned the relevance of home pages. I was thinking more within the context of search boxes (or omni-boxes), add-ons and bookmarks than tabbed browsing, but I can definitely see that too.

  • http://www.renaldojohnson.com Renaldo J

    What’s the point? No ads are on the Google homepage anyway, meaning they wouldn’t lose revenue. Furthermore, why open a tab to go to Google or make it a homepage when search is possible right from the main bar?

    • Chris Crum

      The “main bar” is one reason that many might just take Facebook up on its offer to switch home pages (if they’re already using Google or another search engine)…Google could potentially lose ad revenue if users have Facebook as their home page and do a search from there (which would lead them to Bing results).

  • http://www.rtek2000.com Guest

    Perhaps, this makes a big difference. Facebook is considered by any business as a time waster (with small exclusions) while iGoogle is never blocked. I can’t use any social networking web sites, however Google is on my corporate desktop.

    • Chris Crum

      Of course you can access Facebook through iGoogle as well.

  • http://www.hertelwax.com Terry Hertel

    So I have developed a focused facebook type page. If Google took it on, the user would have a choice and make 2.4 billion extra.
    I have it running but would like to get it going with some VC or more.

  • http://richinayear.com Guest

    When I open my browser I like to decide where to go rather than have it load a page for me. That’s what favorites and bookmarks are for. About:Blank for me. Although, the kids nowadays are too lazy to type. (Even though moar is the same amount of letters as more. Also with words like the = teh etc…) So, the stupider people will be taken in by this call to action to make facebook your homepage. Us older dogs will continue to just use our old ways.

  • MacJeff

    Oldsters will remember when AOL was ubiquitous. It was the giant of its era, and by the standards of that era it did far more than Facebook does today. No one in that era could’ve envisioned a future in which AOL wasn’t at the head of the pack.

    Isn’t that funny?

    • Chris Crum

      Things certainly do change, and it’s entirely possible that Facebook isn’t immune to this, but for the time being, it’s in a pretty good position.

  • http://yahoo.com Guest

    my email is my homepage lol
    im never goign to change that when i want news i open yahoo they have all the major stuff right there
    if i do searches i have 2 toolbars, yahoo and zynga can search from either they open new tabs

    as for a web browser firefox
    hardly any viruses are written for it never had a problem
    yeah it crashes once in awhile by hey what doesnt?
    homepages went out a few years ago
    the fact that when i open facebook it does have that annoying message for me to make it my homepage im abotu sick of it already
    i only use it because to play the one game i really like you have ot have an account on facebook which i keep buggin the game site, zynga, to make a change about

    if it wasnt for the game i wouldnt be on facebook even a 1/4 of what i am now which is for most people

  • fran

    i will stay with google as my home page

  • http://companyweb Admin User

    Get real people. Facebook is a tool – not a destination. If Facebook’s approach is to wall itself off into a silo that the rest of the web can not access, it will ultimately doom itself to the same fate as AOL and others. Google’s success can be largely attributed to it’s openness and willingness to give back to the web community. Facebook would do well to better emulate this approach.

  • http://www.winescellarsnmore.com Guest

    Sorry to be the odd one out but I do not set my home page to anything other than my own sites, of which I have many so I have a variety of content to look at and it is a way for me to see if there is content needed to be freshened up on my sites. http://www.winescellarsnmore.com http://cookingwithwinenmore.com are just a couple.

  • David

    Do NOT let Facebook have any more access to your private info than necessary. Yesterday I logged on and an affiliate link that sent me off to a dfiet product web site kept coming up when I clicked on my profile button. Looked like a Clickbank aff code. It actually took me off Facebook’s site and to that page. I have a dev account there and it was not a framed page. I posted it so all could see. It happened more than once. The site was very slow right before that and going onto that site has my hard drive churning a bit today. That is only happening when I am logged onto Facebook. No other sites. One of their apps to see who checked your profile (which is inaccurate and spam anyway) went to an ISP in Pakistan where there was no contact info on that web page. Facebook has not answered my questions about that yet. Do not give up your private info there. It is very insecure.

    • Guest

      this is known by users as a COMMON virus/trojan via app 3rd party ware and a known FACEBOOK SECURITY FLAW but apparently FACEBOOK admin feels no compulsion to warn people of it’s own insecurities

      actually any third party apps may not be secure beyond the usual privacy invasions of getting access to your entire list

      FACEBOOK knows that if you link to an insecure page from FACEBOOK there is a FLAW a gaping hole- NEVER go to outside link from a FB page- close browser and open in new window-
      I got nasty BHO trojan had to waste hours to remove it
      it degrades your entire drive info if you keep rebooting

  • PGS

    To avoid spoofing / fake sites / etc, we use a site created here & stored locally that has links to all that we use. We can add or remove links as required. Perfectly safe as all listed sites are checked first.

    We don’t use facebook/twitter – actually, never even seen twitter/my space, … Having a life provides no time for fake friends.

    I’ve seen 2 FB pages ever. One where I was asked to check it when something went wrong (bad coding) & once someone gave me one of their IDs to see their pix as I refused to join it.
    It’s nothing to write home about. It doesn’t seem particularly secure. The concept that ‘data security is our main aim’ is crap. Their ONLY aim is to make $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$

  • http://www.pushbikewear.com steve

    Yes I would set Facebook as my homepage.
    I only started using it a month or so ago, but now it takes up a large part of my online activity.
    It is proving to be a great way to find people who like what we do.

  • Guest

    I have a mind – I also have a brain – I decide where I want to go and what I want to look at – and its rarely FB – the Internet is rich with possibilities – the only place I visit everyday is Outlook for my emails and Google to search – I am sure Google has absolutely nothing to worry about;) Facebook is intrusive and boring!

    • Guest

      Google has nothing to worry about. I agree that most people take care
      of business first and Facebook is an after-thought. A little bit goes a long way
      and it also consumes your whole day!!!! Not worth it! My home page is Google and
      i like it that way. Hey, there’s a song! :)

  • http://www.crystalcandle-shop.com S. L.

    No thanks Facebook! I like igoogle as my homepage and I like google search engine. I won’t use the email account either. FB should be left as a social networking site. As far as google chrome, no thanks google! I like Firefox much better!

  • Guest

    What is Facebook? — I’ve never used it …

    • Guest

      Congratulations! — You are probably one of the few remaining smart people on the planet — I also have never used Facebook; nor will I — those that do are wasting their time while generating page views and dollars for those that own Facebook — eventually, they will figure out that their time can be better spent elsewhere.

      So, what is Facebook?

  • http://ripsychotherapy.com Mike Adamowicz

    Awful lot of negative comments at the youtube presentation of rockmelt. Most seemed to based on a rejection of more social networking and control of the web from social network sites. It might be that all this banter about Facebook’s strengths is like when a stock is getting all rave reviews. It’s at that moment that you know to sell the stock. Facebook might be in the same situation.

  • http://www.snerdey.com Snerdey

    I don’t always have good things to say but yea I use iGoogle and ya know what? No, I’m not going to make FB my home page as it’s not my main focus. Sure, lots will switch but does Google really need to be worried about that? Hmm.. not IMHO.

    Let’s see.. 4 monitors and about a 1/2 dozen tabs each if not more.

    Which one of these is my home page exactly anyway?

    I have no clue..

    Whatever.. follow me on Twitter cause you can.
    http://www.twitter.com/snerdey

  • http://www.netvibes.com MikeR

    I don’t care if people set their home pages to Facebook.com at home, but if the trend carries into business, we’re in trouble. I support Facebook as a tool for business to an extent, but if that’s the first thing our people see every time they launch a browser, I’m guessing productivity will nosedive. Personally, I use Netvibes because I have all my work-related bookmarks there (Google Analytics, SalesForce, ExactTarget, etc.) as well as “brand listening” and industry news feeds. In that regard, my home page is a productivity lift.

    • Chris Crum

      That’s a good point, though if they’re going to bother setting Facebook as their work home page, they’re probably going to be on it fairly often anyway.

  • http://str82u.co Str82u

    What were you thinking? Asking webmasters and marketers if they are going to change their homepages… First thing I want out of the browser is to know all sites are up and running because Facebook could care less about our online status…

    My users will do it though, if they haven’t already. I think more people would have switched by now but haven’t got a clue (no insult intended) how to change settings in their browsers. The little links that do it for users are effective in that way; the user doesn’t have to know what to do if they want to set your site as their homepage and we aren’t revealing how to change it manually. Ta Da!

    In all seriousness, the folks that are using Facebook for a majority of their total time spent online are going to accept that option right away, no questions except “How come I didn’t see that sooner?”

    iGoogle, is that getting any action? If Google hasn’t shored up their permanent products, the ones that they want to have around in 5-10 years, they probably should to have something strong to fall back on. I don’t know how they use one product to support another or for how long, business is business. Getting spread too thin might already be something they watch out for when battling it out, especially with real people as the playing field.

  • http://www.darkbird18.com darkbird18

    I have seen this thing before and just like in the past no one can remember what it all means, nothing! Google, did it, Yahoo did it and every one in between but here it is again and the same old nothing news keeps coming out of it. The real news is what does this mean for the “Information Age” and will Facebook be the last ecommerce business to come online? I don’t think so but one thing I can say about Facebook, they make sure everyone knows what they’re doing, which is Big Brother like technique but with style and grace…LOL! SO What!

  • Sir Charles

    No, it won’t be and will never be on top. Googles opening page if perfect/clean/important. FB is only a nice convenience but for most of us something we do just now and then but nothing we need really.

  • https://www.better-gifts-and-giftbaskets.com Elaine

    I originally joined in order to have some connection with a family member who is awful about answering e-mail, etc. I now have a business page there, so try to remember to check in once or twice a day. I use Google as my home page and will not likely change. Facebook is pushy, invasive, and just plain boring. No thanks!

  • http://srgmcoachingconsultant.info/ Shirley

    I have a lot of business partners on Facebook and work over in Facebook everyday…so you better believe I have Facebook set as one of my homepages…igoogle being the other since you can set multiple homepage tabs within firefox. Facebook is now Not just for chit chat anymore, whether you love it or hate it FB will be around for a while making waves..personally I’m still a big fan Google.

  • Guest

    NO NO NO I DETEST HATE facebook continual attempts to SELL ME their site as a homepage

    Facebook is intrusive, has inadequate controls for privacy
    pushes ads and is generally annoying- changing the interface often is not nice for users
    the in your face push for showing only certain posts and making sure others are not seen (recent vs news) is Censorship
    I use FB b/c I have to be connected to certain people for work PR etc

    and NO I check it ONCE per day – itis a time waster and I do notwant it as homepage no matter how many times they try to ask me or push it on to me

    and BIG GIANT NO to them taking over my email

  • Guest

    Google is destined to lose this war unless it’s somehow able to completely redefine what it is to people. In it’s most basic premise, we have the place that gets you to where you want to go vs. the place the majority of people want to go. Hmmmmm…

    • Andree

      First of, im getting tired of reading WebProNews “news” about Facebook, to me it seems you guys are getting paid to give them attention. And that is just wrong. In all cases WPN favours FB blindly.

      Back to your point… destination? are you drunk?.

      I think most people like QUICK start pages, FB is not one of them. I use FB aswell, but I would NEVER consider to use it as a startingpoint. I may visit FB fast when I get online, but I only spend a few minutes. Google will always be our main source for quick info on all topics, FB cannot compete with that. It’s just stupid. Another big issue with FB is that it hangs 20 times a day, here, at my wife’s computer, back home at my parents, everywhere. For most people Facebook is and will always be a security threat, with all the apps coming and going, stealing all your info.

      Theres so many points to why Facebook wont become #1, Google on the other hand is 100% serious with what they do. And for all webmasters Google will always be the 1st and best source.

      Facebook is mostly for attention seekers, people without friends and the works. imho. Simply people that are bored out of their minds… I only use FB with real people I know, I dont add people blindly like 98.7% of the users do and share non-sense. If you dont have anything better to do, I guess FB is for you.

  • http://thegormleyfiles.blogspot.com/ James J. Gormley

    I am a huge Google fan and always will be; my home page is set to Google and it will stay there!

  • http://www.jacksononthemoon.com Sharon J

    Read my lips. Social Media. NOT homepage…over my dead body. I do use Facebook to keep in contact with friends …and I mean real friends, not acquaintances or friends of friends, who live in far flung places. There are times when I don’t open it for several days at a time.

    I agree with many of the comments above, the privacy issues are glaring and besides. How lame, how mediocre, how homogenized is THAT when we all have the same stupid home page.

    Not me!

    It is telling that the spell check here wants me to replace the word Facebook with Facecloth. I just might do that next time!

  • http://www.misslin.eu chris

    At work, It’s whatever the Intranet page of the company I am contracted to is. At home it’s my email or wife website. but in Any cases FB. Don’t get me wrong I love FB and check a few time per day and have an apps on my Android keeping me updated on my 60 odds friends, but that’s it.

    I blocked the like of farmeville (and sent an email to the friends inviting me) and don’t follow any of the links/advert. FB is too invasive as it is and seems to know my browsing habits (despite erasing my cookies/history on a regular basis).

    Using Firefox I have one main page with a few tabs. FB one of them, but maybe the fifth/forth I will look at (email first, bbc second, l’Equipe.fr third)

    As for advertising… I will stay clear, for the time being (I am still cautions of Google sponsored link). In fact FB is good for word of mouth recommendation. If a friend ask me about a nice place to have a pint or a meal in a city I’ve been I am more likely to give him/her a place I liked than asking him/her to click on any advert.

    As for Bing, getting better but, mmmh, not there yet. I’ll stick to google (and google map/local)

    • http://moonwisdom.com.au Lilian

      I totally agree that Facebook is too invasive to make it a home page. The likes of Google, Yahoo etc are subjective to business . FB is more personal and should be left as such. My homepage is ninemsn which I chose as being informative. I can catch up with latest news and Hollywood gossip not the neighbourhood’s.

  • http://www.vianvi.com/showcase Guest

    The first thing I want to check when I get online in the morning is the news! Facebook doesn’t offer that. Quite honestly, Facebook is one of my stops during the day when I need a break from important things. Facebook just isn’t THAT important! Good for those with nothing better to do most of time.

    • Chris Crum

      Facebook offers news if you ‘like’ the right pages.

  • http://www.microscriber.com Stephen

    Should Google be worried about people setting their homepages to Facebook or vice-versa? I can’t see why either would. Each provides a service which has nothing to do with the other. Users who use the Internet more for socializing, who their first task at hand is to log onto Facebook, probably have and wouldn’t change their homepage from Facebook. Others who use the Internet more for resource and information gathering, probably have Google [or equivilant] set as a homepage. There are others like myself who open a web browser hundreds of times a day who don’t want to wait for a page of any size to load prior to being able to enter an address and retrieving a page. I don’t see either having anything to gain by coercing users to set their homepage over the other. Each has its role on the Internet, unique from the other and until that changes, it’s really kind of a silly debate.

    • http://www.stop-ectopics.com Guest

      I have my home page set to iGoogle. On that page, I have all the information I want to look at in the mornings – and a link to Facebook. I don’t see that changing when Facebook eventually get around to asking me.

  • http://marketingmasters.blogfa.com emarketing in simple words

    I think google will be no.1 choice to be our “home page”. It is very user friendly. Google give us more info but FB dont. I’m from iran. Our governemet filter FB but any government cannt do this for google. Google dont like iran and filter some tools, but we (iranian peple, not government) love google!!! I think google have ability to be “home page”.
    Respectfully
    Rahim Nazari

  • Frank

    Seems like a waste of time and bandwidth, i have my own html page on my desktop set as my home page, a table and cells with my most commonly used links, does everyone go to the same place every time they load their browser? If so, maybe you should get out more, at least explore the web, i guess it’s ok to start with a search engine as your home page.

  • http://www.ooogle.com Guest

    Facebook has already proven to invade ones privacy, and its damned if I am going to make f/b my home page, nor use their email.
    As a google user I have easy access to all my business doings, and their google talk takes up to nothing for space on your computer.

    Cheers!

  • http://home.nzcity.co.nz/weather/weatherdetail.aspx?wla=5 Guest

    I don’t think Google have anuthing to worry about as I mainly go staight to Google to seacrh something so having a facebook home page just takes me one steo away from that until facebook has the search capabilites of Goodle.

    My home page is set to the local weather

  • http://www.edwardmusic.net Edward

    They are a bunch of Nazi cencor and police
    They do not belong in a country with the right to free speach!!
    Do I see class action law suit~~
    Hell Yeah

  • http://reliable-seoservices.com Reliable

    What you have mentioned in article can be true. If it happen then Facebook will do same to Google what Google has done with Bing.. That will be interesting to see this war !

  • Vesa Andrei

    For me isn’t possilble. I love facebook, I login every day but it’s google that I need to use very fast. I usually need quick answers not quick access to facebook. It’s ok for me to type in www.f and the browser’s history does the rest.
    Some of my friends use google to get on facebook by typing facebook in the search area beacause they are not used to type www.xxxxxxx.com or xxxxxx.com.

    So I stay with google for now.

  • http://fjunnystuff.blogspot.com Guest

    I have Google set as my homepage on all my computers. Where I stay, bandwidth is expensive and I find that if I access Facebook I use about 40Meg of my airtime ( we pay per Meg) in 15minutes. That in itself restricts my use of Facebook. The other fact is that I work for a large company and access to Facebook is blocked on all the computers in the network. Most of the computers have Google as their homepage – my guesstimate is 95%+

  • http://www.traveleview.com Susomoy Sinha

    Google was hot when it came as it addressed the pain area of the users, how and where to find information that they are looking for. Myspace addressed the music lovers need and did not get the bigger picture. Facebook came in, its facebook season, but every season is over after a period of time.

    Google diluted the focus from search to business and branding

    • Andree

      lol. “People come to google for its search not for anything else” .. and your a webmaster?.

      If you dont use the tools google has, I understand how little you know.
      Without Google’s webmaster tools and their traffic, i’d guess about 80% of the online businesses we know would go bankrupt, yes, im thinking about those that need traffic.

      FB will be an “option”. FB is entertainment and that is it. Google never lost direction. Seen their new search functions?. You can’t really be up to date. Your hilarious.

      Thanks for wasting my time,
      Andree

  • INNOCENT

    FACEBOOK IS PLAYFUL, NO ONE IS TO TAKE IS AS SERIOUS AS YOU TAKE IT CHAPS. I AM NOT GOING THERE, SORRY, I AM NOT. GOOGLE, AND EVEN YAHOO, YES, NOT FACEBOOK

  • http://www.theanaloguerevolution.com Pete

    I log inot FB every time I turn my home computer on, usually the first site I open, but I would never have it as my homepage, I will keep Google. Every new tab I open I don’t want FB again, I will usually wanting to search soemthign so Google is perfect. I will still have FB open in another tab, I would never see the need to have it open in more than one tab, i don’t think many people will switch. For my homepage I want somethign quick and simple as a route to other pages, Facebook just isn’t this, Google is.

    Plus who would ever have FB as their hompage on thier work computers?

  • Guest

    Facebook (via FarmVille, admittedly) stole a year of my life. I do not intend to go there again.

  • Lenin

    Can not stand Facebook.

  • http://www.leninstar.com/ Lenin

    all I hear is… blah, blah, blah

    please go away Facebook, please… ahh

  • http://www.crearecommunications.co.uk/ KJ

    Anyone whose first destination is facebook has probable set it to their homepage already. If you

  • http://www.acomputerportal.com/social_bookmarks.html Social Network Links

    It is said that users spend more time reading, taken notice maybe, on Social Network Links than on Search Engines

  • http://blackcutwitch.co.uk Guest

    I use my email to filter my facebook shit. That way it doesn’t suck me i for too long and I am more directed about my activity when I go there. As a marketing tool I am finding it invaluable alongside blogger and other more art specific sites. I love it all, as long as you handle IT and don’t let IT handle you it’s all part of a wonderful web.

  • http://www.jimmydoremi.blogspot.com jimmy@healthywalkingexercise

    I’m not an avid user of facebook. I don’t think I’ll make FB my homepage. I still prefer to use Google to do my research and shall remain my favourite research tool unless I could find a better one in the near future.

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