Google chief executive Larry Page has fired a shot across the bow of Facebook, saying the social network is "doing a really bad job" on its products in an interview with Wired.
The 39-year-old Page gave the rare interview to Wired in December, before Facebook announced Graph Search, a tool that treads closer to Google's valuable search service than ever before.
The Google boss admitted that his company previously had "real issues with how our users shared information, how they expressed their identity, adding that Facebook is "a company that's strong in that space. But they're also doing a really bad job on their products."
Page continued: "For us to succeed, is it necessary for some other company to fail? No. We're actually doing something different. I think it's outrageous to say that there's only space for one company in these areas [search and social]. When we started with search, everyone said, 'You guys are gonna fail, there's already five search companies.' We said, 'We are a search company, but we're doing something different.' That's how I see all these areas."
Speaking of it's own social network, Google+, Page said that he is happy with how it is operating, and that being copied by the competition is a good thing. "We're working on a lot of really cool stuff. A lot of it has been copied by our competitors, so I think we're doing a good job."
In the wake of Apple's iOS 6 Maps fiasco, where the company moved away from Google to create its own mobile mapping app, and launched one full of errors, Page steered clear of commenting on rivals, but added: "We've been working on Maps for a long time, and it's nice to see people realise that we've put a lot of effort and investment into it. That's clearly more appreciated now."
Addressing Apple's business model of offering a small, controlled range of products, Page said that, although it is "working pretty well for them," he finds the strategy unsatisfying.
The Google chief added: "I feel like there are all these opportunities in the world to use technology to make people's lives better. At Google we're attacking maybe 0.1 percent of that space. And all the tech companies combined are only at like 1 percent. That means there's 99 percent virgin territory."
Page dismissed the late Steve Jobs's claim that we was willing to "go to thermonuclear war" on Android, asking back: "How well is that working?" before moving on to say Android "has been very successful, and we're very excited about it."
Despite being a large company of more than 50,000 employees, Page remains confident that Google can act like one much smaller, pointing to the weekly TGIF meetings - where any employee can ask himself or other executives questions in person or over email.
"Anything is scalable. We do need to be more cognizant of time zones, because we've got a lot of people in different places. Short of building a giant space mirror that causes the whole Earth to light up at the same time, there's not much we can do about that.
"So we're moving that TGIF meeting to Thursday, so that people in Asia can get it during their work week. That process still works pretty well at our size, and I'm sure it will work fine up to a million people as well."
That million-employee figure, some twenty times greater than Google's current workforce, seems to be an unofficial target for Page.
"Doesn't Walmart have more than a million employees? Ok, maybe it's not important for us to have a million employees, but I like to think that we could build companies that are really scalable to that size.
"We could add people and still be really innovative. That would be great for us. We're one of the bigger companies of the world, and I'd like to see us do more stuff - not just do what somebody else has done, but something new."
To contact the editor, e-mail: