Facebook-Google Rivalry Grows

May 9, 2011: The Facebook website is displayed on a laptop computer in San Anselmo, Calif.

May 9, 2011: The Facebook website is displayed on a laptop computer in San Anselmo, Calif.  (2011 Getty Images)

Facebook will meet with app developers and entrepreneurs on Thursday as it faces what some analysts see as a critical juncture for one of the world’s most well-known tech brands, MarketWatch reported Wednesday.

Facebook remains the dominant social networking site in the world with more than 750 million users. But analysts say Google Inc., with its newly-launched Google+ social networking site and its broader reach on the Web, looms as a serious long-term threat.

Which is why the San Francisco conference, dubbed f8, is expected to highlight Facebook’s efforts to head off Google’s momentum by offering developers more features and tools to build on the Facebook platform.

“What we’re hearing is that it looks like some elements of a redesign or a reintegration of their core features, and then something related to music,” analyst Ben Bajarin of Creative Strategies Inc. said in an interview.

It was reported earlier this month by the Wall Street Journal that Facebook was making changes to turn the site into a hub for listening to music, watching movies and playing video games. Bajarin said Facebook “wants to position themselves as the platform for driving social discovery and consumption that lends itself to sharing.”

IDC analyst Scott Ellison said he would expect Facebook to introduce “tools that allow developers to better leverage the social graph.”

Social graph refers to the Web computing concept that enables Facebook to make interconnections through the enormous amount of user data it collects. App developers and entrepreneurs have built on that system to offer a range of products and services, from gaming to online shopping. For Facebook, that partnership has meant steady growth in revenue.

On Tuesday, eMarketer reported that Facebook revenues are expected to total $4.3 billion in 2011, up from $2 billion in 2010.

But Facebook is seen facing a formidable challenger in Google given the search giant’s broad reach on the Web and beyond, from ventures such as Google+, YouTube and the Android mobile platform, which is expanding its footprint in mobile computing.

“Gmail alone is a huge boost,” Ellison said. “In many cases, Facebook users get notification via Gmail.”

Ellison also cited a recent IDC survey that showed 66 percent of mobile app developers “believe that Google+ can catch up with Facebook.”Read more: MarketWatch.

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