I have some thoughts on Google that I’ve been mulling over ever since Google+ opened up. I don’t put a lot of opinion postings here because I normally put them on my personal site, but whatever; this is pretty relevant and who’s going to stop me? That’s right, here we go…
Some of my favorite people to speak with about the Web are, ironically enough, non-techies. They’re just normal users, friends, my parents, whomever. Sometimes I just sit and watch them use Facebook (I bet it’s creepy as hell). They give a real insight into the future of the Web; if these people don’t get it, no level of fist banging by “us” is going to make something successful.
We can all see what Google did with Google+: they mashed up the models of Facebook and Twitter and rolled in some Google services that already exist. Facebook with the overall concept and Twitter with the friending model (circles). Don’t get me wrong, I think it’s a great effort and I applaud them for continuously trying to break into the social networking scene but the amount of time and effort they’re putting into the weakest part of their portfolio is mind-boggling. It’s an area that really doesn’t advance the Web at all. Not pushing any boundaries, just re-packaging something someone else had success in.
Google has some of the greatest services on the Web: Docs, Calendar, Gmail, Reader, Maps… the list goes on. Maybe focus on some of those?
I guess I’d like to see some advances in their strengths rather than a continuous focus in the social atmosphere. Breaking down Google +, we have:
- A profile
- Pictures (picassa)
I will say that I love being able to have group video conferences (huddle), it’s pretty awesome. I also like the idea behind circles (but dislike the implementation).
Most users don’t care or understand the circles concept, but other than that stuff, what’s the benefit to switching over from Facebook for most people? I don’t see it. It’s a lot of duplicated services: posting, pictures, friending, games, profiles no one reads, etc.
Whether the services over on Google+ are better or not is kind of a moot point because, at their core, both Facebook and Google+ (and Twitter) are broadcasting services. We use them to say “hey look what I did here”. And that’s totally fine. I’m not judging anyone who does that all, I do it myself every time I upload a photo to Facebook or Tweet something out. But the main crutch of a broadcasting service is it’s users and the users just flat-out do not exist in Google+ right now. I don’t see a clear user migration path from Facebook (or Twitter) over to Google+ especially for non-Gmail users.
Yahoo Fantasy Sports
On getting non-Gmail users over to Google+… I think Yahoo Fantasy Sports is a great model to look at for something like this.
If Google wants users to migrate to +, they need to do what Yahoo! sports did and not only be the best, but be the best by such a large margin that if doesn’t make sense for anyone to use anything else. It takes time, but it can be done. And they’ll need to take some more risks.
Taking on a giant: users
I’ve gone on the record a few times saying that I don’t think anyone is going to take down Twitter or Facebook with a similar application. I think we’ve evolved past that. Looking at all the “Twitter” killers that have come along, many of them were better services, I really liked Plurk; amazing interface. But no one used it. Why? Because no one was on it. Sounds circular, I know. But like I mentioned ^ up there, these are broadcasting services and when there isn’t anyone to broadcast to, what’s the point?
I do think both Facebook and Twitter will fall at some point, I don’t know to whom, but I do know that it won’t be Google+ in it’s current state. There’s nothing over there, the hype is gone and the users are bored (dazed) and confused.
Also, I think they should bring back Wave, it had a lot of potential, just a little too much noise. It could certainly be massaged into something awesome over time.
I’m really wondering what people think about this stuff, so let me know. Tell me I’m wrong.