At present, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) (NASDAQ:GOOGL) owns the world's largest search engine and mobile operating system, making it the de facto ruler of the Internet. Not only that, but Google plans to reign over that kingdom for decades to come by tethering an increasing number of users to its ecosystem of services.
It's hard for many people to remember what life was like before Google. Yet an equally disruptive company, Facebook (NASDAQ:FB), has in just a decade forever changed how people communicate over the Internet. Google's own social networking efforts, such as Orkut and Google+, failed to prevent Facebook from becoming the second-most visited website in the world (after Google), according to Alexa.
But looking over the next 10 years, the battle between Google and Facebook will escalate as both companies expand their global reach, clash over mobile users, and compete for advertising dollars.
Facebook's 10-year plans are grand...
During Facebook's third-quarter conference call, CEO Mark Zuckerberg discussed his three-year, five-year, and 10-year goals for the company.
Over the next three years, Zuckerberg intends to continue investing in Facebook's own video platform and new features for Instagram. Both strategies should boost revenue via pricier ads. Five years from now, Zuckerberg envisions the "next generation of services" -- Instagram, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Search -- connecting "billions" of people. He also wants Facebook to evolve into a mobile app platform on its own with App Links -- a platform that allows mobile apps to link directly to each other. Over the next decade, Zuckerberg wants Facebook to help poorer countries connect to the Internet, turn virtual reality specialist Oculus into a "new major computing platform," and better understand artificial intelligence platforms. Facebook also plans to broaden its appeal by expanding its social network for health care and enterprise purposes.
Some of these initiatives directly target Google. By building a video platform, Facebook can monetize its own videos instead of helping users share Google's YouTube videos. Facebook's WhatsApp and Messenger are aimed at stomping out traditional methods of mobile communication like email and SMS.
That's why Google turned Gmail inboxes into "conversations" and let users send SMS messages via Hangouts. Google also tried to connect rural nations to the Internet via Wi-Fi balloons. In regards to AI, Google acquired British AI specialist DeepMind Technologies in 2014, but only after Facebook walked away from negotiations in 2013.
... but Google's plans are grander
Facebook's 10-year plans might overlap with some of Google's current plans, but Google's own plans for the next decade go far beyond anything Facebook can pull off.
Over the next three years, Google plans to disrupt telecom companies with Fiber, a low-cost, high-speed Internet service that is already available in three U.S. cities. Looking ahead five years, Google plans to become the central hub for smart homes and gain ground against Amazon.com (NASDAQ:AMZN) in product searches, with Google Shopping. Ten years from now, Google's driverless cars could be ferrying people to work, and its Boston Dynamics robots could be aiding our soldiers and police officers.
On top all of this, its health care efforts -- which include a biotech subsidiary, genome sequencing, and smart medical devices -- could become a new pillar of growth for the company, allow Google to straddle both the tech and health care industries.
A lot can change in 10 years
Looking ahead into the next decade, both Facebook and Google will face growth bottlenecks. Facebook's year-over-year user growth is slowing, but that could perk up if the company returns to China. Meanwhile, Google Android's market share is peaking and the mobile device market is getting increasingly saturated. Both companies will remain the first two online stops for advertisers, although Amazon's sudden entrance into the market could break up that near-duopoly.
I believe Facebook will remain the master of social media and mobile messaging, but it probably won't disrupt Google in mobile operating systems (which it failed to do with Home) or other markets, due to Google's iron grip on search and mobile operating systems. Meanwhile, Google will keep irking privacy advocates and governments with its expansion into all aspects of digital life, but its role as the backbone of our modern digital lives will remain unbreakable.
Leo Sun owns shares of Facebook. The Motley Fool recommends Facebook, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). The Motley Fool owns shares of Facebook, Google (A shares), and Google (C shares). Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.