Changing of the guard?
Web traffic tracker Hitwise has reported that, for the week ending 13 March, more people visited Facebook in the US than they did Google. Facebook has managed to overtake Google on single days before, but this is the first time it has pulled that trick off for a whole week.
As a milestone, the significance of this event may be viewed in retrospect as the moment people switched from search engines to social networking sites as their primary means of interacting with the web. The concern for Google will be that people are not just interacting with their friends on Facebook, but using it to find stuff too.
Talking to CNN Money, Hitwise media relations director Matt Tatham said: "People want information from friends they trust, versus the the anonymity of a search engine. It's definitely a big moment for Facebook, even though they beat by a small margin. We've seen it coming for quite a long time."
It must be stressed that these figures are just for the facebook.com and google.com domains, and thus don't include things like mail.google.com and Youtube. If you add up all Google properties, Tatham said in the interview, both Google and Yahoo would have accounted for around 11 percent of the US market, whereas Facebook is more like seven percent.
On the other hand, if you look at the trends it's a lot more ominous for Google. The increase in market share for Google, compared to the same week a year ago, was nine percent. For Facebook the increase was 185 percent.