There has been a lot of hype around the launch of Google's latest foray into the social space, Google+, this week, with "hype" being the operative word.
After spending time on the site, I'm convinced that Google Plus is destined meet the same fate as the brand's other failed social networking attempts. The reason? Google doesn't understand social networking.
Here are four early signs that Google+ will fail:
- Despite being launched as a social networking site, Google has limited the number of people that can join at launch. This strategy has failed Google before in the social space (Buzz and Wave come to mind) and demonstrates that, for all that the brand does well, Google does not understand social networking. How can users be expected to establish their social network when their friends, family, or coworkers can't join the site? Meanwhile, Facebook and RenRen are immediately accessible to everyone. Not only does this limit the usability of the site, it squanders the initial excitement around the launch and frustrates any attempt to convert early adopters. Google's effort to ensure site stability has guaranteed its demise even before the doors open.
- Google+ is neither open nor closed. While Google Plus allows you to set sharing levels among your friends, the site permits strangers to connect with you and – in some cases – interact with your content. While there could be some upside to this model in professional or industry networking, that isn't the audience that Google+ is targeting. I don't think Mom is going to be thrilled when a college student from Brazil starts making comments on her recipes.
- With nearly 800 million people spending one trillion minutes per month on Facebook, why should users bother to joining Google+. As of the launch, Google can't any functionality that solves a user's problem or represents a "killer app". Google Plus is simply another way to accomplish the same thing that users are already doing on Facebook. It isn't targeting a niche market or bringing anything new to the party. There is nothing being done in the space that is unique to Google+. Google Plus is elegantly designed, but the core functionality – including the sharing privacy methods that Google has promoted – already existing within Facebook. To put it bluntly, Google can't express any "reason" to join and, therefore, users simply won't join.
- Finally, and perhaps most importantly, Facebook is strong enough to compete and innovate. For all it's fortunes, Google is the underdog in social media. For every gee-whiz thing that Google might be able to implement into Google+, Facebook can simply incorporate those features into their service and easily maintain it's 750+ million user base.
Google has garnered the media's attention yet again; however, the early signs point to a quick and public end to yet another failed social network.