This has not been a good week to be Mark Zuckerberg. Facebook has a competitor… a well done competitor… a well done competitor from a company with very deep pockets. Google has gone on offense!
We’d like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project:
The new Facebook threat is called Google+. It is well integrated into Google’s pre-existing menagerie of websites and services. That means it’s already well positioned with video (Youtube), text and video chatting (Google Talk), photos (Picasa) and search enhanced features.
I suspect Google+’s biggest selling point will be the idea of “Circles.” In Facebook you’re my friend or not. With Google+ you’re part of a group or groups. It’s set up to easily control who sees what. I can post something for work friends or weather friends or viewers or everyone. This lack of compartmentalization is one of Facebook’s real weaknesses.
Earlier this afternoon I opened a video chat (called a hangout) within Goolge+ and invited any of my few dozen friends to check-in. There were four of us with reasonably good video. There’s a feature that’s shifts the focus in a larger window to the participant who’s talking! I like that.
Google+ isn’t as much a new product as it is an improvement of an older one: Facebook!
Will it eat Facebook’s lunch? I don’t know. At first glance it seems better. The pages are cleanly laid out and the photos are larger.
Is there room for two social media sites? Probably not. A large draw for Facebook is there is only one Facebook (as MySpace discovered)!
Here’s the upside for users: Competition will bring out features and functionality faster. Maybe you’ll even begin to be treated like you’re important to Facebook… because as of now you really are.