The internet wars have waged for over 20 years. And with it, we’ve seen the fall of titans (AOL, MySpace, AltaVista), the longevity of steady powers (Google, Yahoo!, Amazon), and the rise of sleeping giants (Facebook, Twitter). To the average internet user, we have our homepages and our go-to sites, whether they are for social interaction, search results, or e-commerce, these sites are engrained in our virtual consciousness. But in the fight between the Social Media Powers and the Search Engine Powers, every click is a battle won or lost.
So, who’s winning the war?
Like any ancient war, we judge the victor by landmass. One side wants control of a particular region. This could be for sea-access, vegetation, natural minerals, or, in the case of the internet wars, a simple broad reach. With this in mind, researchers at Oxford University collected data on each country in the world to find the most visited sites. The results were more uniformed than anyone expected.
According to the results, the internet is dominated by the two “empires” of online: Facebook & Google. As the attached map shows, the great and powerful Google (a power that has also enriched the uranium of Social Media) dominates the western world. Europe, North America and Australia all visit Google with more regularity than any other website. Likewise, Google can claim India, home to over 1 billion people, as a major victory.
Though Google is obviously winning the internet war, Facebook, a power that has (too much surprise) likewise enriched the uranium of search, still managed to carve out a large global market that spreads from Mexico to Egypt to the Philippines. With these large pockets in South America, Northern Africa and Southeast Asia, Facebook is able to slowly surround Google from all corners of the world.
However, in 36 of the 50 countries that Facebook claims dominance, Google is the second-most visited website. And the other 14 countries list YouTube, which is owned by Google, as the second-most visited site.
Like every war between empirical powers, a Switzerland must exist. In this case, it’s Asia. China, Kazakhstan and Russia all claim neutrality by listing local (national) based search engines as their top-visited sites. South Korea lists China’s Baidu search engine as its website of choice. Meanwhile, internet mainstay Yahoo! has two victories in the form of Japan and Taiwan … pretty impressive for a site that only seems to be purchasing other sites.
So, how did Google and Facebook take over the world? Of the millions of websites that exist in the infinite universe that is the internet, Google and Facebook have successfully engrained themselves into the consciousness of internet users. Granted, this happened to brands before (Yahoo!, MySpace), but no site has sat atop the mountain as long as these two behemoths, and with good reason. Google and Facebook can lay claim as the most innovative and evolving sites on the internet. Despite groans about changes to Google Maps and Facebook’s Timeline, these changes keep the sites fresh and evolving.
There is also a great deal of convergence on the internet. Much like the telecommunication (AT&T, MCI) and personal computer (Microsoft, Apple) wars before, Google and Facebook have their fingers in nearly every facet of the internet. Google now touts itself as a one-stop for search, news, e-commerce, Social Media, videos, maps and reviews. One could spend hours upon hours on the internet without ever leaving the Google website family. And Facebook – with the expansion of Instagram and Graph Search, and the integration of Bing – is not too far behind.
In other words, if Facebook and Google continue to refuse to rest on their laurels, don’t expect the map above to change much.