Is Google really “antisocial”?

Posted: October 16, 2011 in Thoughts
Tags: , , , , , ,

In the last couple of years, we have seen Google try, more than once, to become a player at the social networking game. Let’s look at these attempts, and what has become of them:

  1. Orkut (2004): a social networking website, similar to Facebook. Orkut has become very popular in Brazil, but did not have much popularity in the rest of the world.
  2. Google Wave (2009): a software framework centered on online real-time collaborative editing. It was a web-based computing platform and communications protocol, designed to merge key features of media like e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, and social networking. The project was discontinued in 2010 due to insufficient public interest. Development was handed over to the Apache Software Foundation which started to develop a server-based product called Wave in a box.
  3. Google Buzz (2010): a microblogging system on top of Gmail that enables users of posting text, photos, videos, etc., and share with either their friends or everyone. On October 14, 2011, Google announced that it would be discontinuing the Buzz service.

Google+
Google+ is Google’s latest attempt to enter the social networking arena. It attracted a lot of users in its first couple of weeks. However, after the novelty wore off, it seems that most people still prefer to use Facebook. Even though Google+ offered some new features like hangouts and friend circles, those do not seem like much of a motivation to make users switch. A Google engineer says that Google+ is a “pathetic afterthought”.

It is certainly an interesting question to ask: How did Facebook manage to attract users when it first came out, beating MySpace, the dominant social network at that time? And why does it seem like Google still can’t do the same? What would it take to convince the average user to switch from something they are already used to and comfortable with, to something new? I guess this is the million dollar question! It would be great to hear other people’s take on this in the comments.

Personally, I use both social networks, admittedly more facebook, but that’s only because it has a bigger user base. I would love to see the day when Google+ becomes the leader. Will I ever live to see this day, or will Google+ join its predecessors as an abandoned project? I guess only time can tell.

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Comments
  1. Facebook succeeded since it was the first social network where people really used their real IDs, and so they started sharing their personal stuff together like old photos, and then more people started finding their school friends through it, which made everyone talking about it, promoting it to others, and as the user database got bigger more people started finding each other.

    I guess for Google to succeed, it has to be the market leader, has to come up with something new, not just follow the foot steps of other social networkings.

    So, I’m not sure you will live to see Google+ becoming the leader, unless it a major miracle happens.

    Facebook is still the best 🙂

    (I’m a big G lover)

    • hm, I think part of the people jumping into Facebook is the fact that it was originally restricted to school students (people who have an @ .edu email account).. once it opened to everyone, everyone wanted to see what was hidden there 😉

      • Amr El-Helw says:

        I agree that this might be a big part of it…the novelty of something unknown. But still it doesn’t explain why people “stayed” with it. The “jumping” effect also happened with Google+ (at least for those who got the invites), but after a while, there doesn’t seem to be so much activity going on there.

  2. very interesting question, Amr!
    I think it os more of a question to sociologists and psychologists (customer & group psychology), though… may be that is what Google is missing…

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