This week Google has made a bunch of Silicon Valley folks happy with the launch of Google+ and a slew of additional social and communication features (Huddle, Hangout and Sparks). It seems like the Social Network “war” is officially back on, and remarkable this is happening exactly on the same week that Facebook’s old Nemesis, Myspace, is finally put to rest.
From a user experience perspective it seems that Google’s product is getting positive feedback. I personally like it and think that circles is just fun to play with and that the main Google stream component has a good clean user interface.
The successful launch and Google’s reach across different products will surely help Google+ acquire users, but the real questions is not whether they will come if Google builds it, it’s whether they will stick around.
The attention span of users is limited and people use both Facebook and twitter because they provide two pretty different communication channels. Google+, however, is just too similar to Facebook, so it can either steal that attention span from Facebook or bust.
With user retention it seems that Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz are right on the spot – it all comes down to how broken and awkward online sharing is, but for me there is one question that just keeps lingering out there – do people really care about that anymore?
Facebook, with over 750 million users, has done an amazing job educating the masses that privacy is dead and surprisingly enough, it’s working. If privacy is really dead, do we really need walls between our friends and peers at work anymore?
Do young professionals really care if their boss sees their pictures from last night when they were wasted? Maybe not so much – relationship both on the professional setting and on the personal level are getting more informal.
Does a college undergrad care that his mother knows he was out all night with a random girl? yeah well, mom choose to befriend him on Facebook so that will teach good old mom a lesson.
Talking to a few startups this week that are focused on professional social networks and data analytic on top of Facebook, it seems that the Facebook environment is increasingly becoming a professional communication channel.
The thin line between a professional and personal networks is becoming increasingly thinner and people are grouping their personal and business connections together. One startup, FellowUp, a personal productivity tool that taps into social accounts, reports that its users (mostly professionals) are connecting to their Facebook account 50% more often than to their LinkedIn accounts, and are leveraging the Facebook connection to reach-out their peers and counterparts at work alongside their friends.
With a good product out there, it remains to be seen whether Google is able to change users’ habits and make them switch to Google+, because people think that Social sharing on Facebook is broken and would rather share content on Google+ instead. It’s one philosophy vs. the other and may the best one win. Or at least that is the case on the web browsing front.
But what about mobile? Facebook faces one additional risk from Google in the Mobile Social Networking space – Google has that mobile DNA with Android and can build on top of that. For example, what would happen if Google preloads Google+ into Android devices? Facebook probably needs to get more serious about mobile, and fast.