When Google launched their Friend Connect service publicly last week, they one-upped Facebook by providing publishers with an easy to install widget on their site for instantly creating a community. While the features weren’t robust, it made it so that anybody could instantly implement the service on their site. In contrast, Facebook rolled out their service with the a few partners, many of which have still yet to go live.
Why the announcements were made at the same time, most likely due to the two companies’ fierce public relations battle, the battle for developers is still undetermined. There is pretty much one simple reason for using Facebook Connect: access to users’ feeds. Google on the other hand has absolutely no feed to speak of, although I’m sure there will soon be a Google gadget you can get that will display a feed.
The company previously provided screenshots of a feed within iGoogle but as far as I know, no progress has been made on that. Until Google has the eyeballs of hundreds of millions of people that are actively updating their feeds, it will be difficult to compete with Facebook Connect. In the short-term the company has succeeded at building a substantial amount of buzz about their product.
On Twitter, Friend Connect continues to generate more buzz than Facebook Connect which is expected considering that bloggers can instantly integrate with Google’s service. Developers are probably rapidly developing integration with Facebook Connect though. I know I spent the weekend programming a Facebook Connect service and a few people I’ve spoken to have been doing the same thing.
Just as Twitter has become a place for brands to distribute messages, so to has Facebook’s news feed and users’ mini-feeds. Unfortunately for Google, there is currently nothing comparable. That is Google’s current weakness and something that I’m confident they are racing to resolve.