Monday, July 4, 2011

The Race is on: Facebook versus Google+

Earlier this year we learned about the slight slump in popularity of the megaorganism known as Facebook. 
The number of Americans using the"blue timekiller" (as I lovingly call it) had dropped within the period of May from 155 million to 149 million. And this, they (as in the faceless, all-encompassing specialists)say, is a reason to worry. Is the pop rocket of a phenomenon showing signs of fatigue? Entering mature phase? (In all fairness it is gaining more adult users over 45 rapidly). Every trend has their beginning and an end. And now, with us all hooked into using social media services, it appears to be almost translucently cool to be able to resign from joining the game. At least, that´s what I blogged about at the end of last year, with hints of antisocial network and the luxury of saying no. Because let´s face it, being "off-grid" nowadays is getting rare indeed.

Then again, for a discernible part of us, Facebook, is just... plain fun. It is like the good old handy telephone book, with only a few tiny little upgrades. I like not always being forced to leave the house to talk with friends -especially when it is freezing cold outside and you feel overdrained. If only it did not play with our privacy so much. All the little bugs and crunches that made us cough, worry and shake our heads over the last year -could this be done differently? And hey, as we are talking about it, why is there no good competition? Sure, there was (and is) diaspora , where at least you can own the rights for your own pictures. But that did not really catch fire. Nowadays, it seems diaspora is mainly being visited by its developers. Correct me if I am wrong. So what is a girl (or a boy, or an animal) to do?

Enter Google+.  The latest development of the magnate company to get us all hooked inside the big megacorporation. After being released a few days ago for a selected group of people (ok, the ones who managed to buy, bag or steal an invite) it has generated buzz all over the web. Is this the Facebook-killer? Can the social network be redone, and better?
So far, my experience is quite narrow and clinical. With the lack of an as established and large friendsupply inside the "+", playing around just isin´t as fun, at least for now. One feels like the odd kid left on the sandbox with a plastic toy and anticipation hanging in the air. However, the positives of the new social media are visible, and Google has definitely noted the problems within Facebook, which we all are more than familiar with.

The pages are clean, sleek and free of clutter. Have you noticed how the sideline of ads in Facebook has grown deviously over time? How everything you search or write about is instantly met with similar themed ads? So far, there is no such thing in Google+, but then again, they might start playing the moneygame any day soon. Google+ consists of "hangouts", "circles" and "sparks". "Sparks" is where news become social and users can set the news to match their preferences. "Hangouts" is like the name: place to hang out with your friends from various circles -through video chat. And guess why Facebook announced they are bringing Skype-powered video chat this week? The competition can be fruitful for the large public.

"Circles" is the main pro side of Google+. Tired of setting up limitations for various friends over at Facebook? Yes, the whole thing can be done differently and smoothly. In Google+ the user can easily place people in separates "circles", and set limitations to these circles of friends. Now you can literally put those parental units in their own circle, and not worry about them seeing you every post from last Friday. Let´s not forget business contacts, either.  Oversharing just is not what most of have a need to do.

Another pro (or con, depending how you look at it) is that the whole thing is integrated with other Google services. Just log into your account (gmail, Youtube etc) and you are free to play with Google+, as well. This should be good news for Android- phone users as well, as the "app" for Google+ is already available, as write this. And I got it yesterday, thank you very much. Intrigued, but wondering how to switch all you hundreds of close friends from Facebook to Google+ smoothly? No worries, there is a solution! Courtesy of a friendly developer named Mohamed Mansour, one can easily switch the bundle of pals from the blue system into the G-system. It is called "Facebook Friend Exporter", it is free and available here . Be prepared to move everyone into their respective circles, though.

So how does one get inside the happening hotspot of the moment? My, by invitation only! As I am writing this, the invitation system does not work smoothly as of yet (that´s why the system is not officially open yet!). But every now and then a few invites slip by. So... does anyone want an invite? If so, write a nice comment, send your gmail-address ( and I will do my best.



Noora said...

Nicely written. All what I wanted to know about "+" for now in a nutshell. Thanks!

mikkoantero said...

I can't comment on Google+ quite yet, for the apparent reason (but would appreciate an invite, thank you very much!), but one notion on the end of FB, as a lot of commentators have seen the decline in the amount of US active users. Now, for any service, when it matures in a given market, a decline after the peak figures is expected. Actually, it would be kind of odd if this didn't happen. FB, of course, peaked first in the market where it started, and with impressive figures: over half of US adult population! From what I've seen described, it does not seem at all impossible for the "blue timekiller" to match the competition, if it wants so. Integration to google services being an exception, of course.

Btw, do you have any statistics on the amount of Google accounts?

Marika said...

Thanks for the tip via Twitter and the extensive blog post! Personally I am waiting for a "Facebook-replacer" in hopes of getting rid of constantly not knowing which-new-actions by me are shared to god-knows-who.

Cheers, Marika @hyklo

lbrown said...

I like what you said about the sides of the pages being clear...that's going to be a welcome look! Thanks for the great run down. Nice to hear from someone who's on the "inside"!

BigDogStudioX said...

Great post, I find Google+ very interesting and think it's such a possibly bold move by Google. And thanks to Google being Google this has gained a lot of speed rapidly. But it is all a hype you think?

Anna L said...

Great blog post - interestingly written and some stuff I din't know about! :)

Despite of my Orwellian (1984..) fears of Google's almighty powers now extending to the most dangerous field of all, I would like to try Google+, being completely and utterly fed up with Facebook (parents, uncles, ex-boyfriends...)

I can comment here again once I have some feeling to the whole thing!