Facebook friends FriendFeed

FF heart FB.pngBy now you have probably heard about Facebook’s FriendFeed acquisition. I first heard about it when TechCrunch published a quick post last night about the acquisition and more news started to appear within the next half hour or so. The short version is that Facebook has paid $50 million in cash and Facebook shares for FriendFeed. The whole FriendFeed team is going to move across to Facebook and FriendFeed’s 4 founders will take up senior positions at Facebook. As you can see from this thread below, people’s responses to the news have been mixed:

There has been some really excellent coverage of the acquisition (Mashable, in particular, has a number of terrific articles (as usual)) so I won’t rehash everything that has been discussed. While I was a little disappointed to read the news about the acquisition, I was more disappointed to learn that FriendFeed’s adoption hasn’t exactly skyrocketed in recent months. This seems to be the case so often: great new Web tools launch (or relaunch) and just don’t get the traction they deserve because of slavish commitment to more established services (Twitter, in this example). We’ve already seen Jaiku all but disappear (and that was before Google acquired it) and I regarded Jaiku as a better option compared to Twitter. This acquisition is preferable to seeing FriendFeed drop off down the line although it remains to be seen how FriendFeed will be integrated into Facebook and what will happen to the current service.

Anyway, I was thinking about the acquisition last night and aside from the FriendFeed team, I can see the acquisition boosting a couple other aspects of Facebook’s service. For one thing FriendFeed can really improve the wannabe real-time Facebook newsfeed and make it truly real-time. Another thing FriendFeed can improve is the discussion toolkit on Facebook. Facebook has been copying FriendFeed for some time now and FriendFeed just seems to have a superior discussion engine that also ties in very nicely with the real-time stream.

Of course there is also FriendFeed’s powerful real-time search capability which will give Facebook an edge. Facebook has recently upgraded its search engine which apparently includes Bing but the FriendFeed search engine is just amazing. It even searches Twitter better than Twitter search searches itself.

I am looking forward to seeing what happens to FriendFeed and Facebook. Will FriendFeed continue on as a distinct service or will we see the site disappear and everything be folded into Facebook. I am hoping the former. FriendFeed as a standalone service is terrific and I’d hate to see it go away or even stagnate as we saw with Jaiku in its final months. When it comes to Facebook I’d like to see some of FriendFeed’s technologies incorporated into it to improve it. I am always a fan of an improved Facebook.

The elephant in the room is Google. Google hasn’t made any concerted efforts in the social networking space. Orkut is popular but just not outside South America and India and it isn’t like to pick up a substantial following where Facebook is dominant. I hoped that Friend Connect would become a lot more pervasive but that doesn’t seem to be happening. If anything, Facebook Connect is surging ahead and leaving Friend Connect in the dust. What I am wondering is if we will see Google do something big or continue on in a different direction?

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