The social media world has nearly imploded on itself with the news that Google+ was releasing. There have been numerous analysts, tech bloggers & the likes that think Google may have just gotten it right with Google+. Could this be possible? Could Google have really won the social war with this one? Simply put,
no maybe. Facebook is Facebook and that will never change, but could the Googs really take over?
I’ve been hearing about Google’s “Facebook Killer” for awhile now. Actually, I hear about it every time one of their social products fail (I’m looking at you Buzz & Wave). What really aggravates me is their lame names. Buzz? Wave? +1? They probably spent like 3 trillion dollars on research to come up with that name, too. Pshh, pocket change.
Nick O’Neill over at AllFacebook made a very good point about Google+ and the one feature Facebook should fear: Users won’t have the option of not using Google+. He pointed out that Google has a tactic in place (the amount of time you end up spending on Google properties) – by seeing what your friends are sharing via notifications. He also noted that the notifications box is also something that Google could leverage to steal one of Facebook’s most valuable assets: developers.
Another whisper around the web is that Google will introduce Games & a nifty question and answer service. Lines in the source code uncovered by Engadget mention Google+Games. It was also mentioned last year by then-CEO Eric Schmidt that Google would soon announce a partnership with Zynga – details of which may come out during Zynga’s IPO filing in the next week or so. This is a major threat to Facebook since its games are one of its stickier products that allows it to boast the “time spent on site” factor.
My theory is that Google is not re-inventing the social wheel with this one. They are, in fact, becoming more social. I don’t think they have built a Facebook Killer per say, but they have some threatening elements that networks like Facebook should fear. For one, they are definitely building on their strengths: Mobile (Android) & Video (YouTube). They have already proved themselves in these two areas, substantially. They are also building on Facebook’s weaknesses, mainly privacy.
The new “Circles” product pertains to the networks that you create in real life, as opposed to online. With Facebook you really only have all of your friends to share with. Nothing is really private because we have “friends” on Facebook that we don’t have in real life. Google lets you share certain things with certain people. Facebook has screwed up in the privacy arena on more than one occasion and Circles certainly makes the Googs look great.
Now while all this is good, it’s new. People have been using Facebook for years now, and have created their own “Facebook personalities”. There is history to the platform, which I think is one of it’s biggest assets. The billions of photos stored on their servers, your friends, your fails, and your connections. These are all things you will simply not leave behind to share links with your “circles”.
Despite all the spam that appears on Facebook, it is still interesting to me. I think the one thing that Google has not mastered is the Photo product. Picasa is at best, okay (though personally I find it annoying). Users still want to be able to upload their 178 photos from the cottage that nobody really cares about, and they yearn for the comments and likes on a new profile picture. It’s definitely a vanity thing.
Let’s be honest, I also REALLY don’t want to spend 3 hours sorting through people and putting them into Circles. Not something I look forward too…
There is also the fact that Facebook sent out press invitations for an “Awesome Launch” this week – which could be a number of things. It could be an Instagram/Path like photo app, or an integration with Skype. Whatever it is, it will be interesting to see what Facebook brings to the table.
Overall, it should be interesting to see who comes out the winner of the Social Platform battle. though I think like the Facebook vs. Twitter debate – the platforms will be used for different things. 700 million strong is quite the number to beat – your move, Googs.
I have not “been invited” to Google+ yet, so my opinions may be biased.
To see some great feature explanation of Google+ see this