Sunday, 3 July 2011

Will Google+ be the Windows 95 of cloud living?

Google+ looks good enough to beat Facebook and other social networking websites, MySpace co-founder and ex-president Tom Anderson has suggested.

Anderson has left a message on his new Google+ page at 10:55 a.m. (edited 11:37 a.m.) today, expressing his thoughts on the new Google social network and how it is “primed to make good on that original premise – that everything gets better when [it’s] social.”

Well it is a bit soon to write off Facebook. Also Google has had a legacy of failed social networks including Buzz and Wave. The Hype around Wave a bit over a year ago was pretty massive.

Wave had a long waiting list and millions of people lined up to get a hold of it. IT magazines were full of Wave and I even had people tell me that SharePoint was Microsoft's Wave at one point.

So one should assume Google+ will fail before it will take off. Certainly the reviews to date have been rave, but so have the reviews for Windows 7 mobile. We know about the value of a rave, having written some rave reviews of the features of Nokia recent phones.

But Android teaches that Google is able of really big wins in this space. Google+ with Android might offer what Facebook can't: a solid mobile social experience. Despite twitters recent growth this is still, in our opinion, a wide open goal with people still willing to test new social platforms.

But Google+ has to offer something more than just a replacement to Facebook. Key features we would to Google+ to provide:
  • A strong mobile experience that does more than just provide web site in mobile but provides a mobile appropriate experience.
  • A bridge between garden fenced community with social networks and access to the larger more interesting bigger web. Today this is done with using Facebook with Twitter and YouTube. Facebook's main weakness is the information quickly looks inbreed very quickly. Google+ should provide social networks without the social incest problem.
  • Overcome Facebook's technology limitations.
  • A true customer/focused focused product. The biggest killer we have seen to date with social networks is that they become high school, and the customer service treats people like high school. They tend to treat you like cattle and blow lots of PR BS in your face if you have a problem. As yet a truly engaged social network that has the community features of a Wikipedia or Blogosphere do not exist in this space. In short maybe Google can support the level of engagement people get in truly crowd sourced solutions. Google should return to its "don't be evil" values and find a way to make money without limiting the community formation and free expression of users. Google+ should be about the people on it and not about Google. This is where MySpace and Facebook have fallen down badly.
  • Media quality, Google has the ability to support image sharing (via Picasa), video sharing (via YouTube) and IM (Google Chat) along with email and search to provide all the basic features for a read write web. Blogger, YouTube, GMail are well established industry standards in Web 2.0 and they should be able to defeat Facebook's limited capacity as a photo and video sharing site.

In short everything is in place for Google+ to take off. The demand is there and we sense people are starting to get tired of Facebook. Google has strong technology around search, blogging, messaging, communication, video sharing and image sharing that can make a first class online experience. Google+ needs to place a social center to Google's product set, and then have a bit of good luck.

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