Google+ Isn’t Doing So Well

In a lot of ways, it’s seems to be following the pattern set by Google Buzz and Google Wave: a lot of build-up, following by a mad rush-in by the early adopters, followed by a slow death as late adopters don’t materialize, and early adopters get bored and move on to the next new shiny thing. According to Yahoo! Finance, people in the know — like Linked-In execs and the CEO of Dropbox’s competitor, — don’t really see Google+ going anywhere.

And over the past couple of weeks, Facebook has been overhauling its website:

  • To one up Google on the one feature they did better than Facebook, Google Circles, they made their friend lists not only more visible, but automatic! Now you don’t have to even figure out which circles your friend Alan is in: Facebook will do it for you.
  • They added one-way Twitter-like subscriptions (which Google+ also has) and the Twitter-like news-ticker.
  • They added the timeline feature, which lets you pour in even more personal data into Facebook and is therefore a win/win: you get more of your life story in one place, you get to spend more time on Facebook stalking people’s life stories, and Facebook gets even more information about you, so they can show you even better tailored ads while you’re spending all this extra time on Facebook.
  • They made it really easy to automatically post what you’re listening to and watching, so your friends can spend even more time on Facebook.

The over-arching theme: user engagement  — to prevent mass exodus. (If you’re looking for a chuckle, the overhaul was announced at Facebook’s F8 conference, where SNL’s Andy Samberg did a great impersonation of Zuckerberg, who made it really awkward at the end.)


A few months ago, Google+ was the new toy with some cool features; now, the honeymoon’s over and the ex’s new haircut looks really good. In the first month, it looks like only about 1 in 10 Google+ members actually visited the site. Judging from the numerous anecdotes comparing it to a deserted wild west town, that figure sounds about right. And in November, Google+ is opening up to developers who will hopefully make some sort of tumbleweed game.

In the end, Facebook will win because it is focused on doing one thing, and doing it well: connecting you to your friends. Apple is focused on making computer-things you love, and they’re bigger than Google. Google used to be focused on search, and no one beats it at that. No one beats it on web-mail either, and their news reader is also hard to beat. But they’re trying to be everything to everyone, and they can’t win big battles with their tightly-focused, smart competitors. Microsoft certainly didn’t, and if Google is something, it’s the new Microsoft.

In the meantime, Diaspora* — the open-source, distributed social networking platform — will be shortly released as a beta, after about a year and a half of development thanks to some hefty Kickstarter funds.

Update, Oct 10 2011: Google+ lost 60% of its active users

From Yahoo! Finance

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