How Does Google +1 Affect The Other Big Tech And Social Media Companies?
The hype is building around Google + with a surprisingly positive reaction coming from most of the early users. It is still very early days and if it is to actually take off and become something that millions of people use is still very much up in the air. For the sake of this post I am going to assume the hypothetical notion that as soon as Google + launches to the public it is a big runaway success. We are talking tens of millions of users by the end of the year and some serious traction helped by Google pushing it through all their online properties and adding a tool bar to the top of every page. Of course the service might turn out to be a flop like all Google’s social efforts to date but for arguments sake lets say this one bucks the trend. So what would this mean for the other big social networks and tech companies? How big of a threat could this actually become and what sorts of discussions are happening right now in the boardrooms of the following companies…
Probably the company where the most frantic conversations are being held as we speak to see what they do about this. Facebook have a massive user base and all the traction and the average man on the street doesn’t have a clue what Google + is yet and may never know. The big advantage that Google have is mobile. Facebook better really hurry up with their mobile strategy because this is already baked in to Android and I’d go as far as saying the Google + apps are miles ahead of Facebook on day 1. Google have really cleaned up the interface and there are no ads on the site (yet), this really is a beautiful product when compared to Facebook and it’s as fast as anything. It’s also fairly apparent that Google have gone after some of the things that make Facebook work as well like photos with a beautiful clean interface and the best way I have ever seen of uploading photos. People all upload their photos to Facebook though and that is a huge advantage because that is where their social graph is. I uploaded a couple and it worked great but I don’t have any reason to add them to Google + yet. The other big advantage that Google have is the way they segment people which is something that you can do on Facebook but very few people do because it’s such a clunk experience whereas using circles is simple and intuitive. I wouldn’t be panicked yet if I was Facebook but for a company that had social networking wrapped up for years there could be some serious competition coming.
Probably under threat due to the way that people can share content with each other on Google + but having said that Twitter is far to important and has far too much traction and daily use to get bumped off as the primary news source and information stream. Twitter is still pretty much completely public though and not everybody likes sharing all of their information with everybody. Google is banking on the fact that the more personalized sharing is what people are after but it will be hard to see Google + having too much of a negative impact on Twitter. I don’t see people sharing information, links and content on both networks because there really wouldn’t be much point having 2 streams, there can only be one winner in the real time stream and that will probably be Twitter.
All the talk about Google+ since it launched has been about how it competes with Facebook but for me if it were to take off it would be a much bigger threat to Linkedin than anybody else. Many businesses are starting to use Google’s online apps systems and most of your email and Google contacts are professionally related. There is certain types of content that I would like to share with work related people or even business prospects and I could see myself doing that through Google+ if enough people started using it. The one big issue that Google has is how will it bring it’s professional paying customers that use their apps service in to Google+ as you can’t currently use it under that guise. Linkedin have made great efforts to increase the amount of content flowing through their system but make no mistake if Google + takes off it could pose a serious threat to the professional network.
Youtube is of course owned by Google which means if this does take off it could be a massive success that works well for both Youtube and Google + with deep integration across both sites. For all the amount of time that people spend watching Youtube videos the site is still very basic in it’s social features and most of the sharing of videos happens on 3rd party sites like Twitter and Facebook. I’ve always thought that Youtube should be far more social and this could be just the boost it needs especially with the +1 button on ever single Youtube video already.
The app for Google + is currently with Apple for approval and I wouldn’t be surprised if they took their time approving it! I reckon Apple would block the app if they thought they could get away with it but the backlash would be too big so it will most likely get approved. This doesn’t really interfere with Apple’s core business too much but if Google + did become so popular that people started buying Android phones as a result that could start to hurt their iPhones sales. This goes a long way to explaining why Apple was so keen to bake Twitter in to iOS 5 and start making their own products social. Could this force Apple to partner up with Facebook or even to buy Twitter? It could be a smart move.