Archive for February, 2012

Why Google+ is better than Facebook but will fail anyway

February 22nd, 2012 No comments

I wouldn’t exactly describe myself as a social media expert. I opt out of whole chunks of it and wonder what could possible motivate someone to share unutterably mundane comments and photos from life day after day, much less read about it from others. Then again, I do have my own blog, two of them, actually, but who’s counting, and I edit on a couple more. I have a photo stream on flickr, a Facebook page, a LinkedIn profile, a nearly unused twitter feed, a Google+ account, not to mention profiles on Quora, Memrise, Foursquare, Yelp! and even Apple’s Ping! to name a few, but you get the idea. Do I really think I’m any less mundane? (More importantly, do you?)

Here are just a few reasons why Google+ is way better than Facebook but will fail anyway.

Circles are the mullets of social media and that’s a good thing.

  • Business in the front, party in the back. Circles are intuitive and easy, and they reflect the real world in a way Facebook never thought of. Officially, you can wrangle Facebook’s groups into the same kind of functionality, but circles transparently enable you to share your drunken photos with your fellow partiers and your straight-laced business posts with your work colleagues. There are things your mom just doesn’t want to know about and Google+ understands this. The standard Facebook solution, meanwhile, is to create a another user account.

Google+ is better for businesses, which is better for users.

  • A business has several opportunities to promote itself with Google+ including shared circles and search. In Google+, learning about what my friends are interested in gives me a chance to follow their interests without signing up to a new app that will clutter my feed with all manner of unwanted, unexpected posts. You build your reputation on social sites (like you do in the real world) by following things that are interesting and others find interesting too. Facebook mangles this with apps and likes and continues the nearly failed strategy of banner ads that users ignore or a search function that essentially reformats the user’s friend list and news feed. This is better for businesses because their advertising efforts are rewarded and better for users because we’re less distracted by junk we don’t care about anyway.

+1 is sticky, while “likes” fade

  • “Likes” are more widespread to be sure, but unlike Google’s +1 likes fade away, buried underneath the weight of the social noise generated by Facebook’s users. +1 meanwhile is attached to search and appears anytime a user searches for similar things. Google knows search, and social search, creepy as it is, can be really powerful. Likes are about a user’s ego; +1 is about something more powerful, a user’s reputation.

Facebook users share, Google+ users curate.

  • Facebook is designed around the concept that we want to share everything we do. It’s pretty clear that I’m wrong about this, based on its staggering popularity, but all this over-sharing destroys value. Perhaps because everyone who follows you isn’t necessarily your friend, Google+ users tend to curate what they post, using the simple circles functionality to ensure that the right content gets to the right people. You can see an example of this already in action. Compare Photobucket to flickr. Sure, some flickr users will upload a whole “roll” unedited, but where that’s practically the point of Photobucket, user curation results in amazing, captivating pictures on flickr. Browse the two sites even for a moment and see if you don’t agree.

Google+ is growing fast.

  • I won’t bore you with statistics, but Google+ has over 100 million users and has built them up much more quickly than Facebook did.

Somehow, none of this matters. Two facts will slowly kill Google+.

The first one is that people sign up, (just look at those growth numbers) and quickly realize that nobody they know is there sharing anything (even anything uninteresting). Sure, they could follow famous people, but if they care about that, they’re already doing so with Twitter (nearly all of the features of Twitter, except, perhaps for its name, are duplicated in Google+).

The second problem is fatigue. Fatigue from users, radio and tv announcers, web designers, content creators, even businesses, who have add and manage yet another way to contact and hear from them. You’ve probably heard the phrase “check us out on Facebook, or follow us on twitter at….” over 100 times already today. Adding “+1 us on Google+” is just too much. It’s a big hurdle to get over and it means knocking at least one of those two addresses from its dominant position (Twitter, Google is looking at you!), although, up till now, I’ve seen nothing to indicate that this is Google’s strategy.

If I’m right, it should be, but, what do the pluserati think? Feel free to let us know in the comments section; or over at Google+

Slowing the development cycle

February 20th, 2012 No comments

Apple’s a bit slow. The iPhone has been followed up, twice now, with incremental upgrades. The iPhone 3GS and the iPhone 4S were both relatively minor tweaks on the previous model. Bloggers complain, customers barely notice, but one group is absolutely thrilled: developers.

I work with an Apple developer and it turns out, that despite all the hoops and regulations they have to jump through to even sell something related to the Apple an Apple platform, it’s all worth it because Apple has made the big picture much easier. The write-once-deploy-anywhere notion is sort of true in Apple-land in a way that Andriod can’t even dream of. Once a piece of software or hardware is developed for an Apple product, it will plug into the same port, in the same location and have the same application hooks on iPods, a range of iPhones, and a couple of different iPads. That’s a pretty big deal when compared to developing an accessory for an Andriod-based phone or tablet. In that world, it’s develop once, and then try try again for nearly every phone or tablet on the market.

Apple will release an iPad “3” in March, but, like their other incremental upgrades, it isn’t the time to expect much. Rumors are starting to shake out that there won’t even be an all new A6 quad-core processor, for example. As if anyone but the technorati even cares. The iPad is firmly in the lead among tablets; there is little reason to rock this particular boat. I could, for example, imagine that the real feature of the new iPad will be its price: cheaper than the last ones. Such a move would be devastating to the competition who are making compelling products but struggling to make them as inexpensively as Apple has (with the obvious exception of Amazon).

A cheaper iPad could be decimating to the only real competitor: Amazon’s Fire. Seeing as the iPad already runs Amazon’s Kindle app, a cheap iPad would fill a visible niche. Not to mention how happy developers would be. They wouldn’t have to re-design accessories for this new product. Keeping developers happy is critical in these days when your product isn’t just a shrink-wrapped device, but rather that whole eco-system of market channels, accessories, and add-ons.

Still, I’ve taken up this prediction thing, lately, so, I’ll predict that, in spite of my hopes and dreams, Apple will not be lowering their iPad 3 price. They can always (and likely will) sell last year’s model for cheaper, but really, why would they want to cannibalize their own margins to sell a few extra units? The Kindle has proven no real threat and there is little point in being both the performance and low-cost leader.