In Q3, Social Media Business Models and Real-Time Search Took Center Stage

Subscribe to GigaOM Pro for $79 a year, get this report.Social networking and the real-time web are changing how information on the Internet is consumed, as the ability to disperse and share information through social platforms and do it using real-time tools is shifting the focus of content from “historical” news to real-time events. Such a shift is giving rise to what we’re calling the NewNet, and it will impact everyone with a business presence online. As part of our GigaOM Pro subscription research service, we’ve compiled a look at the major trends and emerging issues for this next-generation version of the Internet in a third-quarter wrap-up.

For social networks, “coopetition” is the name of the game
As the NewNet develops, competition among social media players is being monitored more closely. While the rise of one networking site does not necessarily mean the demise of another, user numbers are suggesting that there’s a correlation, as evidenced most recently by MySpace’s performance in the third quarter. With Facebook superseding the social networking site in the U.S. and Twitter overtaking it in the UK, MySpace is struggling.

As social networking sites vie for users (and by extension, market share), the competition has encouraged a great deal of mimicry. What one social network does, another is soon to copy. There were several instances of this in the third quarter, especially in terms of new feature releases.

But the market isn’t entirely defined by competition. Facebook in the third quarter released a feature that allows administrators of Facebook Pages (the pages for celebrities, organizations and businesses) to send status updates out directly as tweets as well as to link each Page to different Twitter accounts. While this feature embraces Twitter as a communication channel, it also serves as a way to keep users on the Facebook site, resulting in a blurring of cooperation and competition known as coopetition. Such arrangements will continue to mark players’ relationships in the space.

Google’s two-front war in search
The rise of social networks, which enable the searching and accessing of current events and dialogues in a casual manner that’s personal to users’ interests, is forcing Google to try and figure out how it can better incorporate real-time search. To that end, the company during the third quarter released a slew of new products, apps and search features — such as such as location-aware results for mobile users — that are geared toward moving Google into the NewNet era by providing context to the user experience. In the meantime, however, the search giant is also facing competition from more established players, most notably in the form of a 10-year search deal inked by Yahoo and Microsoft.

The NewNet is a rapidly evolving space, and the leaders of today (such as Google) can easily become the losers of tomorrow. Innovations around NewNet technologies are forcing companies, new and old alike, to continue evaluating and redefining themselves in order to keep pace. After all, the real-time, social web is not a momentary trend, but rather the future of the web. The next several quarters will be critical when it comes to both defining the NewNet — and to identifying which companies will take the lead in bringing it forth.

A more in-depth look at these trends and others is available in the latest Quarterly Wrap-ups in our five focus areas — NewNet, Mobile, Green IT, Connected Consumer, and Infrastructure. These quarterly reviews are available to GigaOM Pro subscribers, along with dozens of detailed research briefings and in-depth articles on specific topics in each of these areas. You can subscribe here.