Facebook’s slew of F8 announcements, including the launch of its Timeline initiative as well as multiple media partnership, appears to have many aims. Facebook wants to become more of a media company, more comprehensive, and more time-consuming.
But one of its unspoken goals is to give people every reason in the world to make sure that their Facebook identity stays their primary Web identity. In fact, many believe that control over the Internet’s ID system is where the next battle between the technology titans will unfold.
“I see this ID battle between Facebook, Twitter and Google,” said Ian Schafer, CEO of Deep Focus during a panel session at the Digiday Social conference.
Why? The company that best controls the largest number of real user accounts, among other things, can exert heavy influence on the future of digital content and ad targeting. Schafer used the example of Twitter melding its user-id information with that of Apple, the other major contender in this race.
“I have a conspiracy theory about this,” said Schafer. “I see the opportunity to target iAds based on a user’s Twitter activity.”
Owning a user’s identify and all the information that brings with it is more important than usage and engagement for a social network, argued Rishad Tobaccowala, chief strategy & innovation officer at VivaKi.
“Google doesn’t care if you actually use Google+,” said Tobaccowala during a keynote speech on Thursday. “They just want your identify. If they can get to 100 million users, they’ll make more money than Facebook.
Sure, but right now, Facebook is in the best position to dominate Web ID. The company was early, and they’ve got over 700 million users. But they need not be the only victor.
“I’m a big believer that we are heading into the multiplatform era,” said John Borthwick, CEO of betaworks, which owns shares in Twitter as the result of an acquisiton. “Facebook has brought real identiy to the Web in a huge and menafingul way. But the Web is bigger than Facebook.”
Apple, of course, has a huge user base of real paying customers with iTunes. But it’s not very social yet, said Borthwick.
And Google is trying to get there with Google+. But it is likely to struggle based on what he’s seen so far. “Google cannot afford to get this wrong,” Borthwick said. “They’ve stated their commitment. It’s a make or break play.”
In an attempt to compete with Facebook, Borthwick predicted that Google will probably become more open. It needs to try something, because the stakes could not be higher for Google, since search’s dominant position in the Web ecosytem is eroding. “Social is redefinineg how to discover and navigation happens on Web,” said Borthwick.