Who will ultimately win more hearts, minds, and -- most importantly -- wallets? After a sensational fourth quarter it looks like Google has nothing to fear from obvious competitors (Microsoft, Yahoo), but what about Facebook? After all, the king of social networks did surpass the Internet giant as the most-visited website in the U.S. 

Showdown Throwdown 

Seeing as how they're inherently different, it's easy to understand why many experts believe the competition between these two giants is over-hyped. But for argument's sake, think about like this: Regardless of their DNA, Google and Facebook have the same endgame, which is to be the point of entry for Internet folk. Obviously, holding this position on the Web would lead to lots of awesome junk, such as the most effective advertising platform. 

Further, after Goldman Sachs Group and a Russian investment firm invested US$ 500 million in Facebook, Google's stock price made a fast US$ 28 drop. And let's not forget Eric Schmidt's step-down, which is kind of a big deal. "Google couched the announcement in terms of management clarity and efficiency...but the real need is to reestablish the entrepreneurial drive that is propelling Facebook," wrote James B. Stewart of the Wall Street Journal.

Meanwhile, Schmidt tried to set the record straight at the World Economic Forum in Davis. "This has nothing to do with competitors," he said. "I publicly said the next 10 years will be as successful as the past 10."

And regarding Facebook specifically: 

[Facebook] has clearly stated they don't want to get into the search business. Facebook users tend to use Google search. Facebook's ads business does not displace our advertising. I'm somewhat perplexed by the obsession because I don't think the facts support it. Things are going great for Google.

What do y'all think? In whatever case, we couldn't be happier. Heavy competition of any sort (even the hearsay kind) generally means speedy innovation. We're in for some exciting times.  

Google Launches Print Service for iPhone and Android

Don't wait for your phone maker to provide print capabilities, because here comes Google with a cloud-based service of its own. Big G now offers hope for those stuck with documents or messages on their mobile. Currently, the new service allows Windows users (with Mac and Linux support to come) with the latest version of Google Chrome (9.0.x) to create a connector that makes their printer visible from the cloud.

Then, using the iPhone or Android web browser, you can access Gmail and choose the message or document and Print from the option menu:

 

googlemobileprint.jpg 

Google Offers Up More Opt-out Features

The latest action on the browser wars battlefield is a dual of opt-out skills. Mozilla, Microsoft and Google announced the inclusion of tools in their respective browsers that make it easier for users to withdraw from behavioral tracking.

Google's extension for Google Chrome is called Keep My Opt-Outs. The add-on ties into the browser's internal cookie APIs in order to make sure that the the proper opt-out setting is configured for each advertising network. In order to accomplish this, the add-on bundles a JSON-based registry of the major advertising network domains and the required value in the cookie for each one.

"Google's approach is effective and pragmatic because it simply wraps the existing cookie-based opt-out mechanisms that are offered by the advertising companies," explained Ryan Paul of ars technica. "The manner in which it attempts to intercept and rewrite cookies, however, poses some minor challenges and is arguably a suboptimal technical solution."

On this front, most agree Mozilla is winning. Check out the competition here