jueves, 7 de julio de 2011

Google vs Facebook: who's the bigger monster?

Google is finally getting into the Social Networking Biz with its new Google+ features. The first question that comes to mind is "what about Facebook?" meaning: will Facebook and Google+ coexist? will they compete? will one "kill" the other? if so, which will be the survivor? Well, only time will tell.

From what we can see, Google+ is positioning itself as a bit more convenient, easier to use and safer than Facebook with a few new features that make the user control his social networking even more. The look and feel is almost exactly like Facebook's, at least for now during the test phase. The new features include a more straightforward way to organize your friends called "Circles", a video conference calling feature called "Hangouts", and the possibility to synchronize your phone's pictures with Google without having to plug your phone into your computer called "Instant Uploader". There's also two things that don't really seem like "new value" to me: "Sparks" which is a way for Google to get you to tell them what you like and in exchange they'll send you "valuable content"; and "Huddle"which is like a BBM "Groups" deal, that gives the user the possibility to chat with multiple people at the same time.

Frankly, it seems to me like Google is trying to take Facebook's social media crown by doing what they do best: organizing information better than everyone else. And yes, they do a pretty good job at it. Kinda reminds me of when I had Hi5 and switched to Facebook because I felt it was "cleaner and more private". However, this is a real battle (unlike Hi5 vrs Facebook), and it is mainly the fight to win the users over: most people that have Google accounts also have a Facebook account. Google+ on one hand takes away their need to move to another site to do the networking, but at the same time poses them with the conundrum of switching from Facebook, or keeping two similar (ahem, almost exact) services. The real pain is that these 750+ million users that Facebook has already have a pretty robust network of friends. Moving to Google+ would mean starting over. But is this really a bad thing? I bet there are a couple of Facebook users out there willing to shut their accounts down and start over in Google+ just to save themselves the time of "cleaning" their network. Facebook has felt the threat and is fighting back: just recently they introduced video calling through an alliance with Skype - but the group video calling is not free like Google+'s. They clearly know they should start getting prepared for when Google+ launches openly, because they'll need to react fast if they start losing users.

What would you do? I honestly don't know what I'm going to do about this situation, I think its still too early to tell. And yes, Google is putting us Social Networkers in a "situation" by giving us an option to Facebook. An option that seems to be cooler and more beneficial. I guess I'd have to try Google+ to decide, and one of the deciding factors would definitely be how many of my friends decide to switch. Also, the proper functioning of Google+'s value propositions. Seems like the Facebook-Google battle is ON!

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