As it's halfway through 2007, let's take a look back on the highlights of the first half of the year. How is 2007 shaping up in terms of web technology trends and activity? Which companies have shined from January - June 2007?

Well so far in 2007, there are two Web companies that in our opinion have really stood out - Google and Facebook. Google has been furiously buying companies and refining its product range this year, while Facebook has broken through in 2007 as a BigCo and is now a true threat to other big companies like Yahoo and Fox/MySpace.

Google: The PaceSetter in 2007

Google has been on an acquisition romp since at least October 2006, when they acquired YouTube for $1.65B and wiki company JotSpot at the end of that month. Since that time, Google has not only kept acquiring companies at a rapid rate - but they've become the trailblazer for other companies to follow. Google's $3.1B acquisition of online advertising company DoubleClick was quickly followed by similar acquisitions from rival companies (notably Microsoft's $6B purchase of aQuantive). Other significant acqusitions by Google this year include Feedburner, Zenter (an online presentations company), and just recently GrandCentral.

As well as the outright purchases of other companies, Google has continued to refine their product line so far in 2007. They've integrated Gmail and Docs&Spreadsheets, launched Google Apps Premier, ramped up its personalization efforts ( more info here), made moves towards CPA advertising, planned Adsense for Maps, built up its Gadget ecosystem, and launched voice search, Google Gears, Street View Maps, Universal Search and more.

While it might be too early to declare that Google has taken over the world, it is clear from all the activities listed above that Google is well and truly setting the pace among the big Internet companies. Plus they continue to compete very well with the hundreds of alternative search engines.

By comparison, 90's Internet star Yahoo has this year gotten caught up in sticky peanut butter, missed out on buying Facebook, seen its stock price fall, and dismissed its CEO. While it's not all bad news for Yahoo, they've had a lot of challenges so far in 2007 - and with a new CEO (co-founder Jerry Yang), now is a time of re-thinking and refining for Yahoo. Also they face a new challenger in Facebook (more on that below). As for Microsoft, it has been 'steady as she goes' in Redmond - with the next generation of Windows Live launched, interesting new products like Surface, and other efforts to compete with Google and Adobe (Silverlight) in motion.

Facebook: The Rising Star of the Web

Apart from Google, the other company to impress in the first half of 2007 has unquestionably been Facebook. They have come into their own by doing precisely what many have called for in social networks - open up. In Read/WriteWeb's 2007 Web Predictions, published in December 2006, we predicted that "social networks will probably [...] become more open - and data portability will start to occur." Facebook first signaled moves towards this in September 2006, when they expanded registration beyond its core user base of American college students.

But it wasn't until May 2007 that the full nature of their plans was unveiled, when Facebook announced an open platform at an event in San Francisco. Named "The Platform", it is a system enabling 3rd party companies to integrate their services inside of Facebook user pages. Almost overnight, this made Facebook much more of a threat not only to MySpace - but to Yahoo too. Also, it perhaps signaled the next Big IPO (after Google's).

Facebook has its competitors - e.g. the start pages and other social networks like LinkedIn. But there's no question Facebook has set its sights on being a big, influential Internet company. Already many startups have integrated their products into the Facebook platform, so over the rest of 2007 it'll be interesting to see how the platform continues to grow and how many more mainstream users Facebook attracts.

Conclusion

Our analysis over the past 6 months suggests that Google and Facebook have been leading the way in Web Technology, at least among the big companies. Do you agree? But also, which small web companies have caught your eye in 2007 so far?