Can Google+ Compete with Facebook?

October 25, 2011 § Leave a comment

Google+As a follow-up to my last article on Google+ (or G+ as the digital hipsters put it), I want to pose some questions and see if we can answer them together. Since one man does not a focus group make (or a conspiracy, for that matter), I’m reaching out to you to see what you think about G+.  Here are my questions, which I will answer from my point-of-view:

  1. Do you use G+?
  2. What do you think about G+ in comparison to Facebook?
  3. Do you think Google has a grand strategy where the answers to the first two questions don’t matter in the short term?

Do you use G+?

No. Unless you count using it five minutes ago to prepare for this article. I just don’t see the point of having yet another place where I need to check things. First there was voice mail. Then there was email. I have three voicemail accounts and five email accounts I check daily. Add to that Facebook, and to a lesser degree, twitter, that’s a lot of stuff to check. Frankly, I don’t want to add G+ to my list of things to check unless it offers something different and compelling. My goal at this point in my life is to streamline rather than pile on more stuff to deal with.

What do you think about G+ in comparison to Facebook?

In some ways, I think G+ is a Facebook clone, especially the “Streams” funtionality. I do think the “Circles” concept is different and works well. The idea of dragging and dropping people into my “circle of friends,” for example, is well done and makes for a good metaphor. While the user interface has been lauded by some, I just don’t get it. It isn’t much… fun. While it may be a masterpiece in minimalist UI design, I don’t think it translates to why people use social networks in the first place. Social media is, for the most part, a diversion. Remember how ghetto MySpace started to look with all the bling and flashing unicorns? Google+ is a stark, cold polar opposite. Facebook seems to be a happy (read: fun) medium while G+ is devoid of personality. I don’t see my Christmas tree stand or rock star on G+, which makes me feel less connected. How am I going to win an iPad2 in a sweepstakes if I don’t see them on G+?

Do you think Google has a grand strategy where the answers to the first two questions don’t matter in the short term?

Absolutely. First you have to keep in mind that even if you don’t like Google+ now, there are a lot of technology folk who do. Sound familiar? Back in the late 90’s, Google was a little known search engine that gained popularity with people who were more tech savvy and loved the minimalist interface as opposed to Yahoo’s junked up Vegas Strip approach. To this day, Google’s home page does one thing: search. The big difference between then and now is Facebook. The crew at Facebook know what they are doing and are pioneers of social media in its current form. In 1998, people wanted a better way to search. Today, Facebook is real competition for Google+. Even with that said, there is a grand plan.

Steve Jobs will R.I.P. but his business model will never die

The real genius of Steve Jobs was not in the individual parts of his inventions such as the iPod, iPhone, iPad, or iTunes Store. No. The genius was in creating an ecosystem where the individual parts depended upon each other and influence you to use more of the individual parts. Tell me if you know somebody like this: John Doe, a long-time PC user, bought his first iPod five years ago. It wouldn’t let him turn it on until he downloaded and connected to the iTunes Store. He liked it so much, he got an iPhone. That too, required a connection to the mother ship for activation. Next, John got AppleTV. He loves it so much he just had to get an iPad so he could control AppleTV with it. Finally, John did the unthinkable: he bought his first Mac. Welcome to the Apple universe, John.

Google steals from Job’s playbook

Fast forward to today and everybody agrees Google is the best search engine in the world much like the iPod is the best MP3 player in the world. Do you use Google’s web browser called Chrome? It integrates nicely with Google+. I use Google Calendar and Gmail like millions of others. So, where the iTunes Store is the center of the Apple universe, I believe Google is trying to make Google+ the center of its universe. In a few years, you can expect to see Google+ features integrated across all the different pieces and parts of Google you have come to know and love. So, while I might not be using Google+ today, I might be using it in 2 or 3 years because it offers a compelling reason to. What that reason is will be anybody’s guess. If Google can reduce the number of inboxes I check everyday to one, then they will have me.

So, what are your answers to these questions? Discuss!

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