A few months ago, TechCrunch broke a story that Facebook has bought FriendFeed, a social media aggregator that has a core niche of users, some of whom are really big players in the tech world (think Robert Scoble of Fast Company). FriendFeed never really took off or even approached mainstream status the way Twitter has. That said, this is huge news for the social networking industry. Aside from TechCrunch’s observation that Facebook now has an even larger team of ex-Googlers, this purchase also gives Facebook a new array of tools to reach deeper into people’s online media consumption. Facebook already has the ability to allow users to aggregate any RSS feed into their wall. However, FriendFeed offers a much easier integration of RSS tools, plus real-time updates.
Social network aggregation has been a pretty big mountain that no one company or service has been able to really successfully climb, but this purchase puts Facebook way ahead of most other services out there just by the sheer mass of its user base.
What’s even more important is how this purchase positions Facebook against Google. As Wired magazine pointed out a few months ago, Facebook is looking to take down Google. This purchase will give Facebook even more tools to control more personal data than ever before. And as a closed system, Facebook could potentially hide a rich data source from Google’s prying search engine eyes. At the same time, Google plans released its own personal communications tool called Google Wave that merges email, instant messaging, wiki, and social networking, and could potentially change the way we use the Internet. So, we have two giants slugging it out in the online battlefield to be the hub of people’s personal lives and online communications. Hang on tight, it’s going to be a bumpy (and interesting) ride.