Sunday, July 10, 2011

Few thoughts on Google+

I have been playing with Google+ for more than two weeks now and I really like the product even though I find it overwhelming. Ok, it is Google next attempt to catch up with Facebook and lay down the foundation for a meaningful social connection layer. In a way, it was necessary for Google to not become irrelevant as social overcome any type of algorithm to find relevant links about what you are interested in.

So far, Google has been able to demonstrate that Google Plus is very cool as a platform to post articles or message and it seems to be catching on in the “social network” community. What worries me about Google’s approach is twofold: 1) it is an attempt to recreate Facebook and my question is do we need another Facebook? Do companies need yet another profile and if yes, what is this profile supposed to be when the company has a web site that you can access already easily through a Google search? If I have a blog, do I need to push my info to Google Plus when people can find this information easily by typing by name followed by blog, as a consumer, I have spent massive amount of time to build my profile on LinkedIn, why do I need to build another one when you can access that I already built 2) it is a massive attempt in unifying all Google properties which creates massive issues of privacy policies as well as a very palatable lack of interoperability between the Facebook, Apple and the Google platform. In a way, I would have loved for Google to build their social networking layer but keep the information discovery mechanism that it already owns with Google Search and the Web as the publishing platform.

For me as a user, what changes? Well, I have now five platforms that I need to check on a daily basis: Email, Facebook, Twitter, Google Plus and mobile. In addition, I have a little bit of fun with Foursquare but just to play with a couple of friends so it doesn’t count. What am I going to do as my time is already very short? I am probably going to cut one of those platforms. I don’t think it is going to be Facebook as all my family is there. It cannot be email or mobile so at the end it is going to be neck to neck between Google Plus and Twitter.

Now, who is going to win or lose in this battle, it seems to me that three companies will be hurt pretty badly Twitter and LinkedIn:
1) Tumblr is right at the end of the tunnel and they are seeing the train coming. Google+ is all about posting and it is really easy to do;
2) Twitter because their installed of active users is pretty small, geeky in nature and prone to use new technologies and more importantly because Google + is far superior to twitter as a media platform. If I use Google +, I can see a post and I can see what people commented in the post, which Twitter doesn’t do;
3) LinkedIn: the emergence of profile on Google Plus is going to commoditize the biggest asset of LinkedIn and clearly hamper its ability to develop their social networking capabilities. Luckily for LinkedIn, Google wants all profiles to be public but I can see companies like Monster or other leverage Google social graph to develop their own LinkedIn clones. Fortunately, LinkedIn has already critical masses in the HR management market;
4) More stretched is WordPress even though I really think that there is a risk here as Google has its own blogging platform. To which extent this is going to be successful will depend on how successful Google Integration strategy is going to be. Microsoft has been successful with Office and there is no reason why Google could not be successful in the same way by commoditizing each feature by providing an integrated approach;
5) Regarding Facebook, I think Facebook is strong enough to compete and resist to any attempt of that magnitude. Obviously, there is a lot of dissatisfaction with the Facebook base with all the privacy issues that plagued the company and some may be ready for a change anyway so people will be tempted to switch but people will realize that Google is not as flexible as it seems, witness is their requirement to make your Google Profile public.
6) Lastly, of course, Yahoo and Microsoft are becoming even more irrelevant and the three real platforms of choices for the consumer are slowly becoming Google, Facebook, Apple and maybe Amazon.

Regarding my new year's resolution, I have done the half marathon and well on my way to be paperless before the end of the year. This said, I lost my beautiful pen last week on a plane and i bought one right away. So unconsciously, I may still not be there yet.


Anonymous said...

I think one of the more interesting parts of Google+ is being overlooked. Its the first product since the original search that looks like the UI was created by a designer, not an engineer. The geeky UIs have always been a weakness of the various Google offerings, and one that that their culture was blinding them to. If the Google+ UI is representative of future work from Google a lot of people beside the social media companies should be concerned.

Philippe Cases said...

Barry, the site is well done for sure. That is why it is so exciting and I agree with you that Google has pushed the boundaries on what is expected for a social networking site.