Is Google App Engine a Facebook Competitor?

Yesterday, most of the buzz floating around was about Google’s new App Engine. The service has been hailed as the competitor to S3 but both Nate Westheimer and David Recordon say that the true competitor is Facebook. Nate says that the real problem with the new App Engine in comparison to S3 & EC2 is all the contraints. Right now all apps must be written in python and should integrate with the Google infrastructure. Trying to combine statements of Nate & David is somewhat complex since they have presented their arguments in different manners.

Both make accurate points. While the Google App Engine leverages Google’s userbase, it doesn’t store anything pertaining to relationships. It let’s the social networks handle that function. Just as Facebook has an application directory, so does the App Engine. The main point is that Google has created a central location for you to host an application and gain users. One downfall is you can’t compare the size of each application’s userbase but I would imagine the opportunity is relatively substantial.

While on a technical and theoretical level Google App Engine is a competitor to Facebook, on a basic level it definitely isn’t. What average user of Google is going to navigate to the Google App Engine application directory? Aside from free hosting, do developers have much of an incentive to build on this new platform? The discussion of Google App Engine being a competitor to Facebook makes sense but is unfounded because the average person is not going to be interfacing with this new application platform. What do you think? Do you even care about the Google App engine?