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Facebook Wants to Become More Like Google, and Google Wants to Become More Like Facebook

Douglas A. McIntyre

Over the past several years, the two dominant internet companies have moved into one another's businesses. The activity seems to be more pitched recently. Facebook Inc. (FB) said it will enter the online video business, which has been ruled by Alphabet Inc.'s (GOOGL) YouTube.

According to a blog post by Daniel Danker, the Director of Product for the new service called Watch:

We’re introducing Watch, a new platform for shows on Facebook. Watch will be available on mobile, on desktop and laptop, and in our TV apps. Shows are made up of episodes — live or recorded — and follow a theme or storyline. To help you keep up with the shows you follow, Watch has a Watchlist so you never miss out on the latest episodes.

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Watch is personalized to help you discover new shows, organized around what your friends and communities are watching. For example, you’ll find sections like “Most Talked About,” which highlights shows that spark conversation, “What’s Making People Laugh,” which includes shows where many people have used the “Haha” reaction, and “What Friends Are Watching,” which helps you connect with friends about shows they too are following.

Facebook said the new product was aimed at shows that have a lot of fans on Facebook, shows that have a constant theme over their installments and sports. Facebook will fund some of the shows that will appear on the service.

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Competition with YouTube is an uphill battle. It has hundreds of millions of visitors worldwide who visit it each month. These people watch tens of billions of videos. For Facebook to match the traffic seems impossible.

There have been several failed attempts by the two companies to compete with one another. One launched with great fanfare was Google+, which was meant to compete directly with Facebook. It has gone away. Facebook's ads are targeted directly at users with specific interests. Google's ad system has been based on the same sort of targeting for years. Both companies have means for users to speak to one another directly, Gchat and Facebook Messenger. Each has a calendar function. The overlap, in smaller projects, is more evidence of rabid competition.

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It is no wonder the two companies are locked in competition beyond Facebook's social network and Google's search. The two are known as the "duopoly" that dominates online advertising to the level that they smother many other companies in the industry. Each would rather have this become a monopoly, at least to the extent that such moves would not catch the interest of regulators.

Facebook Watch is in its infancy, and as such may fail dismally. That will not keep each company from trying to move into the other's core businesses.

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