Why Google+ is Going to Succeed

It’s official, I’m making a call: Google+ is going to work out just fine.

I know there are plenty of skeptics out there, so let’s go ahead and address the most common concerns:

Common Concern #1: Google+ can’t compete with Facebook.

The idea: Facebook is too popular, and a new network like Google+ won’t gain enough traction to reach critical mass.

Why that’s dead wrong: Google knows a thing or two about taking on massively-successful competitors. If it can hold its own against Apple and Mozilla, it can hold its own against Facebook.

The long answer:

Google doesn’t try to gain market share in one overwhelming blow. Google prefers slow, steady growth.

Look at Android. When it launched in Q4 of 2008, Apple had already sold nearly 10 million iPhones — and Steve & co. were getting started. Google didn’t try to win these users over immediately; they gradually earned market share one user at a time. Now Android is more popular than iOS, and all signs point to continued, step-by-step growth.

Need more proof? Let’s talk Chrome. At launch in 2008, Google’s browser started out with roughly 1% of the world’s internet users. Since then, Chrome has slowly crawled along, picking up half a percent of the market every month or so (stats). It now owns a whopping 20% of the browsing market, and there’s no reason to believe it’s going anywhere but up. Half a percent at a time.

Google+ isn’t out to crush Facebook all in one go. It’s going to slowly pick up users, little by little, until it’s a force to be reckoned with in the social media space.

Common Concern #2: Google+ is going to end up just like Google Wave.

The idea: Google’s last major product launch failed. Why should Google+ be any different?

Why that’s dead wrong: Google learns from mistakes. It’s a wildly successful company full of incredibly smart people. If anything, Wave’s failure will help the Google+ team overcome similar challenges.

The long answer:

Google Wave failed for a lot of reasons. It was difficult to explain to others, its success relied too much on developers, and invites were a mess. Google+ has fixed all of these problems.

“It’s just like Facebook” is an adequate description of Google+. Everyone knows Facebook, and that begs questions like “well, what is different?”. These conversations show what Google+ is really about: polish. It doesn’t have a bunch of killer new features, it just has a slightly-better version of the features common to most social media tools.

The invite system is much improved as well. Google Wave fed users a meagre handful of invites on an ad-hoc schedule. This meant carefully choosing who to invite, any only inviting a few friends at a time. The invite system for Google+ is more like a valve; when the servers can handle more users, the valve opens, and everyone can invite as many people as they want. When capacity fills, the valve closes, and we take a short break until the next tide.

Google+ isn’t Wave. It’s not just a different product, it’s a better product. Run by a better team, with a better plan going forward. Why expect anything less from an internet powerhouse with a proven track record?

Even if I’m wrong, I still win.

You know what the best part is about Android vs iOS and Chrome vs Firefox?

Of course you do. Competition.

High-profile technology wars bring major innovation to the market, and that’s always a win for users. Just look at how much smartphones and browsers have advanced in the past three years or so. All of it thanks to increased competition.

Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if Google+ succeeds. The real value is the threat — Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Yammer… they all have to up their game to stay competitive. As a user of these networking tools, we’re certain to benefit for the foreseeable future.

What do you think?

This post also appears on the Macadamian blog.

Leave a comment

  1. I was definitely a Google+ skeptic. You make some really interesting points however about the competition aspect of it. I hope Facebook steps up their game because I, like a lot of people, am getting turned off by all the ads and gimmicks that are considered “features”. People couldn’t do away with Facebook before (it’s like social suicide), but there may be a lot more dropouts if it does build up a steady group if followers. And if all else fails, google+ will always appeal to hipsters. “You use Facebook? I prefer not to conform to society.”