Pluses and Minuses

Facebook Vs Google, Round 2

The whole world seems to be going gaga over the new kid on the block, Google’s Facebook Killer, Google+. I have tried it, since I hardly every like verdicts (they sound good in retrospect, but most people eat their own words when they don’t go right), I would just share some thoughts.

Overall, Google has delivered a kickass product. It’s a great bit of engineering. For the first time in its life, Google seems to have come out of its engineering style product development and has delivered something that is quite well polished. There are hardly any kinks, the product has been thought through well, including deep integration across all google services. It’s even gone ahead and published Google+ like themes for Gmail and Gcalendar. It takes a lot to introduce a new product across all your properties (the top bar in Gmail, Google Search etc.) on day one, and I commend Google on its confidence. And its welcome change from half dash efforts earlier (Buzz, and Orkut while well done was abandoned).

At the same time, however, the product lacks any irresistible feature that will make me switch. The usual: wall/stream, notifications, @/+ etc. have been added. Circle’s is great UI but not something facebook won’t have in two weeks. Sparks and Hangout are cool, but not at the core of social networking. I don’t think I will ever have the time or inclination to “hangout” on the web with friends, unless its work. And if its work, I would rather keep out of Google+. Sparks is something that I have still not understood, and it seems something Google News should have added.

Moving the Social Web is a Mountain. I don’t imagine people suddenly switching to the new kid on the block. There are pictures, friends and family on facebook which people wouldn’t switch on day one, and I doubt given the way facebook is so deeply integrated in most people’s lives (its the first website I open after email), I doubt making the switch will be that easy. I also don’t expect my mom, my dad and so many other people to just jump on Google+, also because of its (slightly) geeky interface.

Getting rid of baggage is also a good thing.  That said, I do want a place where my new social life is better mirrored. Facebook seems to have so much baggage now – people I may not even interact with, that having a place where I can interact with a fewer people is actually better. I have heard horror stories of people meeting you after years and still knowing what you are upto (and you knowing nothing about them!). In a world where your friendships become limited to what you know from your facebook newsfeeds, having a new place to locate new content is a welcome change. I also want a place where I can interact with people with whom I share some interests and keep it distinct from the rest of the world.

Is Google trying too many things? An obvious question comes to mind. Google is planning to fight Facebook & Twitter in social, Groupon in local offers, Microsoft in enterprise and search, and everybody else in Silicon Valley somewhere or the other. Suddenly, the company that started with “Don’t be Evil” has enemies all over and is fighting all fronts.

Competition is good for Facebook. I think its going to keep it on its toes as it has suddenly in the last few months become the monopoly on your social connections. It needs to think of quite a few things – helping us keep our friends graph better organized, surfacing new and better content (I hate the spam on facebook!), and figuring out ways to become more pervasive (are we going to see facebook browser toolbars soon?).

Bad news for Twitter. The one to lose out the most may just be Twitter. What works for twitter is the one way friendship that geeks love, and celebrities take recluse in. If Google is able to capture these well (circles is in some way one way relationship – the friend connection in G+ is quite complex), it will mean people won’t mind moving to it. In this three way world of Twitter/Facebook/Google, it will be Twitter which has the least stickiness, most spam, and no way of monetizing. The dollars twitter would have hoped to get, would now get split even more. If twitter has to stay afloat, it will definitely need to start thinking quickly.

About kpowerinfinity
I *♥* technology, business, conversations, experiences, books, music, theater, coffee and people. I am an entrepreneur in the city of Bangalore - my company, Capillary, provides customer engagement programs and marketing services to retailers around the world.

5 Responses to Pluses and Minuses

  1. Varun says:

    Neat. On your point about “Getting rid of baggage is also a good thing”, Facebook also gained popularity over Orkut for the same reason(one of the many other). There were lot of fake/spam profiles on Orkut and Facebook was a welcome change as you needed a .edu address to join which did add a lot more confidence. Facebook now has become open, and there are lots of fake/spam profiles again – adding to the excess baggage. Unless google+ keeps this in mind, 2-3 years down the line, some other social networking site might come along and we might shift there to clean our excess baggage on google+.

    I do find google+ neatly done, but transitioning fully to google+ from facebook, might be a lot more difficult than it was from orkut to facebook.

    Nice post :)

    • Yes, facebook was competing with a bad product (myspace/orkut/friendster) and it won, but Google+ is dealing with a strong product. The fight is going to be far tougher since Facebook is not going to stay still like its competitors.

      Fb Spam is a major issue. Also the issue is having a lot of friends who you are never in touch with now!

      The next few months will show where we go.

  2. Varun says:


  3. Interesting read. I feel “Moving the Social Web is a Mountain” is a major issue for Google at the moment apart from others. People with there where their friends are. Also, the “adaptation period” in Google+ is large as compared to it’s counterpart’s due to a complete redo in the UI/UX (the others were essentially the same), the new social interaction lingo “Hangouts”, “Circle” etc.

    The tight integration with Google services is a plus but somehow I have a feeling that this will turn out to be another Google’s social product failure. Let’s see what happens !

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