The competition between Google (GOOG) and Facebook (FB) has turned into all-out war with Facebook recommending its users drop Google's Chrome browser in favor of Internet Explorer, Firefox or Opera. (Facebook has been rumored to be seeking to acquire Opera.)
It comes just as Chrome overtakes Internet Explorer as the most-used browser in the market. (Fuller disclosure. I recently switched from Firefox to Chrome and so far, so good. It's faster and seems to use half the memory Firefox does on Windows 7.)
Facebook is getting in-your-face with Google because its Google Plus social network is starting to take big chunks of traffic away from Facebook. The plunge began in January as Google introduced a "search your world" feature on its search engine.
In many ways this is not a fair fight. Google is nearly 40 times bigger, by revenue, with 10 times as many employees. But Facebook now has half Google's traffic, and at the time of its IPO had nearly half its market cap as well.
The war is now extending into other areas. Both companies are circling Vevo, a music service that wants an ad tie-up as well as capital. Facebook is also reportedly circling a face recognition company called Face.com.
Facebook is trying to build out an App Center that would rival Google Play as well as iTunes. Facebook is concerned that Google Glass could threaten its position as the world's biggest photo sharing site.
Google is also dishing out the punishment. Its Google+ Local is a direct attack on Facebook's business model.
Reporters love these kinds of mano-a-mano fights but they also provide something for the participants. Rivalries are good for both sides. They force both sides to raise their games. This can make both tougher competitors for everyone else, as Microsoft (MSFT), Apple (AAPL) and Amazon.com (AMZN) may soon discover.