Facebook could surpass Google by 2011

If you really feel like the last person on earth to join Facebook you may well be on the right track.

According to a researcher with RBC Capital the number of people who have set Facebook as their browser homepage has increased 39% since last year with 45% of all people on the web doing so.

Additionally the report found that Facebook is driving significant traffic to Google — 19% of it in fact. That’s more traffic than Yahoo or MSN Search send in the other direction to Facebook which shows what a powerful central force Facebook has become in the web.

This could actually see Facebook eclipsing Google in number of unique users by 2011 as its current growth rate in unique users is 85% per year while Google’s is only around 20%.

It’s not great news for Google which is facing threats to its supremacy — the possibility that
Yahoo-Microsoft may yet join forces in search scrutiny over market power from governments around the world and the growing popularity of social networking in general which Google has no strength in.

However while Facebook may be poised to surpass Google in number of unique users that doesn’t mean it will be financially challenging Google any time soon. The business model for social networking is a tough one and Facebook is still burning through money much faster than it can earn it.