Web Technology

Why Google+ is Going to Succeed

It’s official, I’m making a call: Google+ is going to work out just fine.

I know there are plenty of skeptics out there, so let’s go ahead and address the most common concerns:

Common Concern #1: Google+ can’t compete with Facebook.

The idea: Facebook is too popular, and a new network like Google+ won’t gain enough traction to reach critical mass.

Why that’s dead wrong: Google knows a thing or two about taking on massively-successful competitors. If it can hold its own against Apple and Mozilla, it can hold its own against Facebook.

The long answer:

Google doesn’t try to gain market share in one overwhelming blow. Google prefers slow, steady growth.

Look at Android. When it launched in Q4 of 2008, Apple had already sold nearly 10 million iPhones — and Steve & co. were getting started. Google didn’t try to win these users over immediately; they gradually earned market share one user at a time. Now Android is more popular than iOS, and all signs point to continued, step-by-step growth.

Need more proof? Let’s talk Chrome. At launch in 2008, Google’s browser started out with roughly 1% of the world’s internet users. Since then, Chrome has slowly crawled along, picking up half a percent of the market every month or so (stats). It now owns a whopping 20% of the browsing market, and there’s no reason to believe it’s going anywhere but up. Half a percent at a time.

Google+ isn’t out to crush Facebook all in one go. It’s going to slowly pick up users, little by little, until it’s a force to be reckoned with in the social media space.

Common Concern #2: Google+ is going to end up just like Google Wave.

The idea: Google’s last major product launch failed. Why should Google+ be any different?

Why that’s dead wrong: Google learns from mistakes. It’s a wildly successful company full of incredibly smart people. If anything, Wave’s failure will help the Google+ team overcome similar challenges.

The long answer:

Google Wave failed for a lot of reasons. It was difficult to explain to others, its success relied too much on developers, and invites were a mess. Google+ has fixed all of these problems.

“It’s just like Facebook” is an adequate description of Google+. Everyone knows Facebook, and that begs questions like “well, what is different?”. These conversations show what Google+ is really about: polish. It doesn’t have a bunch of killer new features, it just has a slightly-better version of the features common to most social media tools.

The invite system is much improved as well. Google Wave fed users a meagre handful of invites on an ad-hoc schedule. This meant carefully choosing who to invite, any only inviting a few friends at a time. The invite system for Google+ is more like a valve; when the servers can handle more users, the valve opens, and everyone can invite as many people as they want. When capacity fills, the valve closes, and we take a short break until the next tide.

Google+ isn’t Wave. It’s not just a different product, it’s a better product. Run by a better team, with a better plan going forward. Why expect anything less from an internet powerhouse with a proven track record?

Even if I’m wrong, I still win.

You know what the best part is about Android vs iOS and Chrome vs Firefox?

Of course you do. Competition.

High-profile technology wars bring major innovation to the market, and that’s always a win for users. Just look at how much smartphones and browsers have advanced in the past three years or so. All of it thanks to increased competition.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if Google+ succeeds. The real value is the threat — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer… they all have to up their game to stay competitive. As a user of these networking tools, we’re certain to benefit for the foreseeable future.

What do you think?

This post also appears on the Macadamian blog.

7 replies on “Why Google+ is Going to Succeed”

I was definitely a Google+ skeptic. You make some really interesting points however about the competition aspect of it. I hope Facebook steps up their game because I, like a lot of people, am getting turned off by all the ads and gimmicks that are considered “features”. People couldn’t do away with Facebook before (it’s like social suicide), but there may be a lot more dropouts if it does build up a steady group if followers. And if all else fails, google+ will always appeal to hipsters. “You use Facebook? I prefer not to conform to society.”

After a couple of days on Google+. I realize how often I turn to google for help and how this automatically makes Google+ a regular part of my life. That little red notification square on the top right beckons me whenever I search for anything.

One key thing about Google+ is that they don’t need to serve me ads straight on the Google+ page. They can use the information about my network collected from Google+ to serve me better, more targeted, more lucrative ads on the standard Google search page. This gives them a leg-up on Facebook. They don’t need to monetize the social network part. They can use the social network to monetize the rest of the web.

It is not complete yet but I can see it becoming really compelling once it gets a good iPhone client, A good desktop client (OSX in my case), integration with Twitter (to bridge the gap before I chose between the two, integration with Google Reader (the place where I do most of my content sharing) and of course, integration with Chrome (+1, Sharing)

@Caro The lack of ads in G+ is probably my favourite feature. As Francis mentioned, this will be much less of a priority for Google because they can make their ad money elsewhere. Can’t wait to see how Facebook responds!

You’re also probably right about the hipsters :)

@Francis Thanks for the insight. As usual, you’re right about a lot of things. The integration with other Google services had escaped me; I still use a desktop client for gmail/gcal, and I’m a fan of DuckDuckGo for search.

Integration is definitely an area where Google+ can improve. Shared items would be especially nice, and you’re right that building +1 and Sharing into Chrome could make for a very powerful one-two punch.

The tool itself is just another place to share updates. This here is the exciting stuff. Imagining what could be, and the wide open space for innovation and cross-pollination. It’s a great time to be an early adopter!

I’m mostly interested in Google+ because I trust google more than facebook with my private information. Google’s company motto is “Don’t be evil”. I think that’s 100% opposite of facebook’s motto. Facebook often requires me to reset permissions that were defaulted to a less secure setting.

Also, sometimes a fresh start is nice.

I have no opinion, since I have not been invited. Dan, please invite me. If I’m not mistaken, I think you also invited me to gmail back in second year.

Competition is king – I agree 100%.

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