Well, Google has launched another social network, +.At first blush, Google + appears to do pretty much what all social networks do–facilitate connections and sharing.
To hear Google’s engineering boss Vic Gundotra tell it, though, you’d think social networks had yet to be invented:
“We believe online sharing is broken. And even awkward … We think connecting with other people is a basic human need. We do it all the time in real life, but our online tools are rigid. They force us into buckets — or into being completely public … Real life sharing is nuanced and rich. It has been hard to get that into software.”
Yes, it has been hard to get sharing into software. That’s why Facebook was created 7 seven years ago. That’s why Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg has been trotting around the world for the past 5 years telling everyone that the company’s mission is to facilitate “sharing.” That’s why Facebook is now used by nearly 700 million people worldwide. That’s why Facebook is basically subsuming the Internet.
(With the latter, of course, being the real reason Google is launching +).
(Vic’s full post announcing Google +, by the way, is even more embarrassing: It’s as if Google is just, for the first time, introducing the concept of social sharing (Twitter), social tagging (Delicious), chat rooms, and so forth.)
No doubt, Google thinks that its new social network is radically different–and radically better–than all the social networks that have come before, including Facebook.
But the language Google is using to introduce the service still seems bizarrely out of touch.
If the product really is that much better than Facebook, and Twitter, and Delicious, and GroupMe, and the other companies Google appears to be attacking, why not just say so? Why pretend that you’ve invented something completely new and sound like you’ve been living in a box for 7 years?
(One answer is that Google is not speaking to tech folks–it’s speaking to the mass market. But the mass market clued into Facebook three years ago)
What Google’s language sounds like, in fact, is what Microsoft’s language has sounded like whenever it has rolled out an Internet product over the past 15 years. (And we know where all of Microsoft’s announcements have gotten them…)
“On Google+ Launch, I bet $FBOOK feels the same way $GOOG felt when $MSFT launched Bing.”
Tech guru Dave Winer also nails it:
I’ve been to so many big earth-shaking events from BigTechCo’s — today’s Google thing is making me yawn, while my eyes glaze over in boredom.
Here’s how products like this are conceived:
1. We need to kill Facebook.
2. What will we do.
3. It can’t just be Facebook.
4. No one will use that.
5. It has to be better.
6. It has to be something only we can do.
7. Some place where we have the advantage.
8. Something people have no choice but to use.
So if you’re Microsoft in 1999, you bake it into Windows.
If you’re Google in 2011, you bake it into search.
In short, at least judging from the rhetoric used to launch the product, Google has given people little reason to think that the launch of + will be any different from the launches of its other social products, such as Wave and Buzz (Wave is dead and Buzz might as well be dead). And the folks at Facebook must be rolling their eyes.
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