At the end of June 2011, the world found out that Google would be launching a social networking site, called Google+, to challenge the likes of Facebook.
Google+, which is already available by invitation to a small number of users, is said to have pretty much the same set of features as Facebook, but it also adds some other bells and whistle, which aren’t available on Facebook… yet.
Given that we’re talking about Google, and not some ambitious start-up company, one has to wonder, is Facebook’s dominance in the social networking market in jeopardy? Will Google finally be able to do what others (and even itself) have tried and failed to do in the past?
Google is arguably the best at learning and adapting faster than others in today’s technology industry, so the question of whether it will finally usurp Facebook is not an easy one to answer.
However, I have given the matter some serious thought, and I am of the opinion that Facebook doesn’t have that much to worry about from Google, at least not for a few years.
I say this partly because it’s wishful-thinking (I already have invested a lot of time on Facebook since joining it four years ago, and I don’t want to start over), but also partly because of some (what I hope are) valid reasons.
Facebook now touts over 750 million (i.e. three-quarters of a billion) registered users. Even if many of these people like to operate multiple accounts or are not that active on their single accounts, that’s still a huge number of people on Facebook!
Google will not find it easy to poach that many people because many have become very close to their Facebook online presences. In fact, Facebook is their online presence. And the same applies to businesses and other organizations, both small and large, who, together with their website, call their Facebook Page their “public face”.
Don’t get me wrong, some curious users may check out Google+ just to see what it is all about, but if it offers pretty much the same features as Facebook, which, from what I have read about Google+ so far, it does, what’s the point of switching?
Even if Google+ does offer something truly unique, Facebook, as its long-time users know, is always evolving as well, so the lead that Google+ may have one day can easily slip the next. The videoconferencing feature of Google+ is a recent example of this.
There’s also the matter of specialty. Google specializes in search, while Facebook has always focused on the social element online. It’s perhaps for this reason that Google’s earlier attempts to break into the social networking game (i.e. Google Buzz and, to a certain extent, Google Wave) failed miserably. The lesson here being, do what you know best, and don’t try to get your hands into everything.
What are your thoughts on this?