Friday, July 1, 2011

Google+ and much ado about nothing

Google recently unveiled its own version of facebook, called Google plus. News organizations, always on the lookout for something sensational, touted this as the new facebook with better privacy options. As with all of its previous products, Google made this one invite-only. In any case, I have no interest whatsoever in ever using this newfangled contraption. Maintaining one social network is hard enough for me; I have no appetite or patience for another. In fact, I am seriously considering completely deleting everything on my facebook and leaving it for good. Even though I don't even use it that much, it is a huge distraction and a time sink. Maybe returning to email and phone will be good.

Google's new product raises a few questions, however. Why this irrepressible urge to one-up the other guy? Why are these tech companies in perpetual race against one other? I understand that innovation is key to growth (and ultimately profits), but sometimes you have to recognize a lost cause and concede. Apple has got the personal music player market pretty well covered, and Microsoft had to learn it the hard way. Google has so perfected the art of online search that it is foolish to spend money in R&D to come up with newer engines (I'm looking at you Bing). Similarly, facebook has a virtual monopoly on social networking in the cloud (600 million users and counting). Any new product designed to rival it has a very high chance of failing spectacularly.

But but isn't facebook the new myspace? Didn't myspace suffer a similar sad demise? Well, yes and no. Myspace arrived at a time when net users were still confused about their needs. It failed to offer complete protection against fake profiles and predatory behavior. It is not like facebook is much better in that regard, but facebook arrived with a sense of purpose. Its exclusivity (remember when you needed to have a college email address AND have someone from inside the network approve you to join? If you can't, you are too young) was a big part of its appeal. People trust it enough to post pictures of their lives and spend time searching for high school classmates, birth mothers and old flames. Just like youtube will never be dislodged from its perch, facebook is here to stay. Whether we like it or not.

Google plus, like its confused predecessor Google Wave, will be a minor player in netdom. Like the old bard said, much ado about nothing. More like google minus.

5 comments:

  1. Hmm, have to disagree Bazarov, to a point. Even if Google+ doesn't kill Facebook, it's good for everyone if there's competition in the social networking market. If Google+ rolls out some cool new feature, or streamlines their approach to give a superior end product, then sooner or later Facebook will copy or 1-up them to compete. Then we all win. On the other hand, if Google+ unveils a feature and it catches on simply because it's new, that's bad.

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  2. I don't know, man. I don't think we need all those new features on either side. It's not like Facebook's (or, for that matter, Google Plus') new features will change everything forever.

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  3. Good Article...

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  4. It's questionable if it will take up the market, but seriously, Google DID fail to predict the social networking revolution, it could have had facebook before facebook had; it had all the users and such. Its track record with Orkut(remember that social network?) and such , along with google wave was poor, but gmail was an instant success. It really depends.
    Btw, I think facebook is aware, and thus is improving as well.
    Time will tell if it'll be a google - or google +.
    Google definitely is trying to make up for lost time, and it probably has been slapping itself in the face for awhile since facebook's success.

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  5. Emilya, I agree that Google failed to capitalize on the social network phenomenon, and Orkut's failure proves it (though Orkut was popular in India, most Indians have now successfully migrated to Facebook). But my point is, Google should explore other avenues of success. If Microsoft had realized its efforts to corner the personal music player market from Apple were futile, it would have avoided spending billions of dollars on the crappy Zune.

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