Is Google deliberately screwing up social?

This argument may seem excessively contrived, but thinking about why Google doesn’t seem to be able to get social right, this thought came across my mind:

If we think of the 3 major players seemingly competing for dominance of the future of computing as Apple, Google and Facebook, they are in a Mexican standoff, where each player is pitted against 2 opponents. How Facebook and Apple are competing is not entirely clear to me, but let’s assume for the sake of the argument they are.

This kind of situation is known as a Truel(tri+duel, smart, huh?) in game theory, and in a highly idealized version, an interesting strategy is optimal. Quoting Wikipedia:

If a single bullet is used, the probabilities of hitting the target are equal and deliberate missing is allowed, the best strategy for the first shooter is to deliberately miss. Since he is now disarmed, the next shooter will have no reason to shoot the first one and so will shoot at the third shooter. While the second shooter might miss deliberately, there would then be the risk that the third one would shoot him. If the first shooter does not deliberately miss, he will presumably be shot by whichever shooter remained.

So for this argument, one might think Google is deliberately screwing up social, which is traditionally Facebook’s turf, thus enticing Facebook to compete with Apple, since Google is apparently not such a big threat.

As I mentioned earlier, this is highly constructed(it ignores Microsoft, for example) and probably far from reality, but I thought it was an entertaining idea, and perhaps contains a grain of truth.

4 thoughts on “Is Google deliberately screwing up social?”

  1. what about microsoft? i have friends at facebook and they are being encouraged to switch to bing

    1. Valid point, though I think of Microsoft more of as a force that is fighting to hold their ground, rather than the aggressive players in the article. That being said, the truel result probably holds in a similar fashion for 4 or more players.

  2. It’s an interesting philosophical argument in game theory, but there’s a big void between the theoretical and the practical here. Facebook is aiming squarely for Google’s turf (ads, traffic), and will do so regardless of Google’s success or failure in the social sphere.

    1. The lack of an obvious competition between Apple and Facebook is definitely a major weakness of the argument. The aim of such a strategy (if it exists) might be to encourage that competition, and get Facebook to go after Apples markets, or vice versa. (Think a Facebook music store, an Apple Ping that doesn’t suck, etc…)

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