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I was asked this question in an interview the other day. It’s framed more provocatively than you or I might think about it, but interviews are like that. The answer was easy, because of the extreme nature of the question. Of course Facebook won’t kill Google. But I don’t say that because I somehow think Larry P has the jump on Mark Z.–instead, I say it because nothing kills anything…
TV was supposed to kill the movies, right? Didn’t quite happen. Or was it that TV was expected to kill radio? That didn’t happen, either. What did happen is that the way we use radio changed.
Burns and Allen, Gunsmoke, soap operas…they all started on radio and moved to TV, leaving radio with news, talk, and music, which seems like a perfectly good use of audio. We started listening to radio mostly in our cars rather than in our homes. Radio changed a lot, but it still isn’t dead.
Twitter killed blogging, right? OK, not exactly. Twitter did kill certain types of blogging. All those blog posts where someone commented on someone else’s post–those are dead because they are better done in Twitter. But blog posts that are a long form article won’t die until something else comes along.
So, no, Facebook won’t kill Google. But searches that could be better served by asking your friends will die. As each new technology comes along, it steals a piece of what the older technologies do. It steals tasks and it steals time. But it’s rare that a communications technology completely kills a predecessor. (Yeah, I hear you, 8-track tapes.) What usually happens is that we specialize—we use new things for what they are good at and we continue to use the old things for some of what we used them for before, but not everything.
Expect to see that with Google, too. And eventually, we’ll be asking whether something new will kill Facebook, and the answer to that will be “no,” also.