Thursday, May 24, 2012

Thoughts on Google+ vs. Facebook


I was reading this Technology Review interview with Google Plus founder Bradley Horowitz http://www.technologyreview.com/web/38855/.

He says that Facebook suffers from conversation targeted at least common denominator (true-ish), so you end up saying drivel (seems false).

It is true there is drivel on Facebook. But, the incentive is to post "high signal" things like "Baby Born" or "Getting Married" or "Moving"

Horowitz may be right on the "least common denominator", but it's not obvious the conclusion to be drawn is "It becomes drivel".

And the immediate counterargument to Google Plus interface is...it's too complex. Two-clicks + mouseover to Follow. Circles labor intensive.

And frankly, Facebook Groups is a decent alternative to Circles.  I was able to create a business school classmates group (https://www.facebook.com/groups/fuqua2004/) in a very short time (10 minutes) that included about 100 classmates.  And others piled in and grew it to 200.  The mechanism for adding people is quite simple and fast.  And I like that it's "crowdsourced".

And frankly, it's easy to understand Facebook Groups.  I "get" that if I want to post something for my classmates, that's a good place to go. Somehow that seems more satisfying than the Circles, which may or may not be updated or complete.

In contrast, imagine that each of us tried to create our classmates list in our own Circles. Labor intensive and hard.

Two thoughts:
1) It seems to me that a "single-stream" is easier to understand or grok. Multiple streams or circles just feels (way) too complex.

2) Gut reaction is that Google Plus isn't "non-consumer" enough, compared to it's other innovations.  I'm reading Christenson's Innovator's Solution, and he talks about how new products can disrupt by targeting non-consumers.  Transistors targeting non-consumers of Vacuum Tubes.  Angioplasty targeting non-consumers of Heart Surgery.

Google Plus, to me, just seems incrementally better than Facebook.  I don't think non-consumers of Facebook/Twitter are going to Google Plus in droves.

Whereas, in contrast, I think other Google innovations were more for non-consumers.
- Search, for those that found Altavista was just a bunch of junk links. Key features: Found what you're looking for!

- GMail, for those who preferred Outlook over Hotmail.  Key features: Fast interface, Threading, Labels, Archive
Pre-Gmail, I was a diehard Outlook person.  I couldn't imagine using Hotmail as my primary mail client.  And now, I love GMail.

- Chrome, so much faster than Internet Explorer (IE).  Not so much for "non-consumers".  But man was it faster.  And I think just this week it passed IE in usage.  Who knew IE could be disrupted?  When IE won the initial browser wars over Netscape, it seemed they were just good to go for a long time.

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