Why can’t Google get social right? Are they trying too hard? We’ve seen products like Google Buzz, Orkut, and Google Wave get rolled out, only to be ignored and forgotten, leaving Facebook time to perfect their product and continue to dominate the social space.
Where is it all heading?
I’ll tell you what I think…
Facebook owns social right now, plain and simple. Surely by now you’ve seen Facebook’s redesigned profile pages. What do you think of them? A lot of people are wondering why Facebook would make such a big change, especially when the majority of their users were perfectly happy with the way things were.
I like the decision to aggressively implement new features into the site, but like it or not, Facebook has the freedom to behave like this simply because they are in the driver’s seat. What are we going to do if we don’t like something, go somewhere else? And where would that be? Myspace? Please.
In Zucks’ recent appearance on 60 Minutes, he discussed the new redesign (among other things). One of the things he talked about was the emphasis he wanted to place on photos, which had previously been something the site wasn’t geared towards.
Every change has something to do with tweaking the social aspect of the site, which is always evolving, and that’s what I like about it.
The bits of info that now reside at the top of our profiles were designed specifically to give new visitors your “elevator pitch”, or the essential pieces of info you might give someone when you first meet them (e.g. where you’re from, where you work). Just having that there will cause people to fill out that information (if it’s missing) and enable you to learn something about people when you first connect with them.
Social is what Facebook is good at. Eventually I think they’ll do battle in the search market, but we’ll discuss that when they get there.
And that brings us back to Google, who is good at search and not so much with social. Google’s overall growth as a company and their inability to get some of their products off the ground as of late is causing some of their employees to jump ship for companies like Facebook.
In the 60 Minutes interview (which you should definitely watch if you missed it), Lesley Stahl pointed out that Google has lost some 200 employees to Facebook alone, causing Google to consider creating a startup incubator within their own company to “retain nimble minds“.
And in the midst of all that, Google’s latest attempt at social has just been uncovered. Originally known as “Google Me”, then “Emerald Sea”, the product is currently being referred to as “Google + 1“, which is terminology you might be familiar with if you use Google Calendar to create meetings.
Google + 1 as it exists now is just something that resembles a social toolbar, at least according to TechCrunch, but it is reported to launch early next year. Do you think Google will be successful this time? When more facts are known, we’ll see how much “buzz” this generates.
Judging from what I’ve seen from Facebook and Google, I’d have to say it looks like it’s much easier to move from social into the search space than vice versa, which is what Google is faced with doing.
Are both companies naive to think they can win both?
Image Credit: Tiger Pixel