Google+ is not a threat to Facebook
This is not the first time Google has attempted to uproot Facebook from its position as the number one social networking website. First, it purchased Orkut and tried to give it a makeover, but failed miserably. Then they introduced Google Wave and Google Buzz but both turned out to be miserable failures. Both Google Wave and Buzz, like the recently launched Google+, offered features which no other website offered, but they failed to survive. So, can Google+ climb to the top and fill Google’s void in the Social Networking world?
The first question that comes to my mind is whether Google+ really wants to take on Facebook.
Google’s two most important and advertised features ‘Huddle’ and ‘Hangout’ have no relation to Facebook. While Facebook has recently introduced Facebook video chat, it has only been introduced to challenge ‘Hangout’. ‘Huddle’ is also in no way going to help Google attract Facebook users but rather users of messenger apps like Kik. Other features, ‘Circles’ and ‘Spark’ are the ones which Google hopes to allure Facebook users with.
Facebook virtually covers every aspect of social networking, from sharing pictures to messaging to chatting. It is the complete social networking website on the internet but it does not stop there. It is also a complete marketing solution for large and small corporations. Many companies have begun replacing their websites with Facebook fan pages. It is common to find the link to a Facebook fan page on a billboard or business card. Facebook has one more less mentioned but equally important usage and that is as a gaming website – millions of users log in to their Facebook account daily with the sole intention of playing games.
The problems with Google+
As compared to the ever expanding and growing Facebook, Google+ offers a small set of features which quite frankly should not even be together. For example, what is the link between ‘Huddle’ and ‘Spark’?
The other problem with Google+ is that most of the features it is offering are ones that, in the long run, will almost never be used. For example ‘Circles’ is basically a way of managing your friends in groups. That has been offered on Facebook for years, but how many times have you used it?
Another problem is that ‘Huddle’ is only limited to people who own an Android Phone and soon iOS will also be added to the list. So that leaves only two truly usable features ‘Hangout’ and ‘Spark’.
‘Hangout’ could very well challenge Facebook but the only problem is that if Facebook decides to introduce multiple user video chat, ‘Hangout’ will die as Facebook has a directory of 750 million users as compared to “a few million” Google+ has.
‘Spark’ is a watered down version of the Facebook feed which will in no way attract Facebook users to make the change.
Another problem which will hinder users from switching is that Google+ is not easy to use. It is confusing and has a very steep learning curve. This was the same reason Wave failed and could easily bring Google+ down. Google expects you to watch a tutorial video before starting to use Google+ while Facebook, anyone can join and start using easily. Google+ also lacks privacy at this time with anyone being able to add anyone to a ‘Circle’ – one of the reasons Facebook became so popular was that it provided numerous privacy options.
The final problem with Google+ is the chat client. Google needs to introduce a dedicated Google+ chat client rather than integrating an already dying Google Talk client into it.
The biggest problem is that Google is trying to make every feature as unique as they can but that is not what users want. For example ‘Circles’ is much more difficult to use then ‘Friends’ on Facebook. While ‘Circles’ may seem cool, the average user does not want to go through these complications and would much rather have a simple and easy to use website.
Without a major revamp of the website, Google could be heading towards another disaster with Google+. Google needs to introduce more features and attract more users and companies alike. It also needs to make it possible for developers to make apps for Google+ so that they can make apps to cover for the shortcomings of the website as was initially done with Facebook.
For now, Google+ has no hope of challenging the mighty Facebook, and unless Google is willing to make radical changes, it could see this new project of its join Buzz and Wave as some of the biggest online flops.
The views expressed by the writer and the reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of The Express Tribune.