Google releases Orkut, their social network service on January 24th, 2004. Orkut gets popular in India and Brasil. On February 9th of 2010 we got Google Buzz, which was criticized over and over again. In the meantime, Facebook and Twitter conquered social media and are probably laughing at Google which services keep stumbling.
But now, Google has some new shiny technology in the form of Google+, a set of services that should get you into Google’s social networking world. Unfortunately, it won’t. You won’t.
Why is that? Why can’t Google make a decent product to compete with Facebook or Twitter? There are two main reasons; functionality and loss of credibility.
To Google Means To Search, Not To Socialize
Since the dawn of time (well, a little bit later) if you wanted to search for something on the Internet, you’d go to Google. You’d “google” something or just “find it on Google”. You wouldn’t go to that-other-search-engine. Google was, and still is, the one and only Internet search tool you need. Most users trust Google so much that when if they can’t find it on Google, you won’t even try other search engines. Google is the Alpha of search engines.
Facebook on the other hand is an online place where you go to chat with your friends, see what’s new and stay in touch. Did you know that the majority of todays kids aren’t aware that there is a whole (online) world outside of Facebook? If you ask them, Facebook is the whole web. Facebook and Twitter have everything that a user wants or needs from a social network. Google has everything that a web surfer needs for his browsing.
You don’t go to Google to socialize with your friends, but to read your e-mails and catch up on RSS feeds. I’m taking a wild guess here, but I’m pretty sure that most of you don’t go to Facebook to check your e-mail, right? Some of you might not have even activated your Facebook e-mail.
There is a link between Google’s social attempt and Facebook’s e-mail attempt; they both failed. If there’s something you do the best, stick to it. Google, you can’t just copy Twitter’s microblogging idea, develop Buzz and expect it to succeed. The same goes for Facebook – focus on your social marketing platform and make it better, don’t make new, half way finished features.
Log In, Look Around and Log Out
Let’s say you’re buying a new car. Your old car is a reliable one, it has everything you need and even more, but Car X appeared on the market. You try it out but it’s a failure. A few years later, here comes the new car X from the same company, and it’s an even bigger disappointment. Would you give it another try? Hardly. And this is what’s happening to Google now.
Google can try and try with social networks, but it’s already doomed. Nobody believes in them; and why should anybody? Orkut isn’t much of a success, Wave failed, Buzz was hated. Google Plus? Sorry Google, my whole life is balancing between Facebook and Twitter and I’m fine there. I don’t need the third social network that:
- Doesn’t have my friends in it;
- Doesn’t give me anything new or better in comparison to other networks.
Every Facebook and Twitter user enjoys spending time on these networks, chatting with their friends. Over the past months or years you’ve created an online home for yourself on those networks, your friends have too and that is the reason why you always have a tab in your browser with Facebook in it. If you’re a blogger, you have probably created a community around your blog which you enjoy discussing with. That is your personal web space, a place that feels like home.
Invitations? Cheap Trick
The sad part of this Google Social story is that Google is aware of that. Hence the invitation system; in order to get invitation to Wave, you had to beg around the web. Google Plus has a somewhat easier system, but still, having invitations to keep the hype up is cheap. Once you get invited, there is a chance that’ll you won’t feel so “exclusive” and when you find out that there is nothing so special about it that it needed invites, you’ll be gone.
I don’t even want to get started with shutting down the invitations because of insane demand. You’re Google, for Pete’s sake.
Log in, look around and log out. A month from now you’ll be happily tweeting and facebooking with your friends like nothing happened. Nobody will remember Google Plus because nobody will be on Google Plus.