At today’s introduction of Facebook video chat, Mark Zuckerberg didn’t want to appear too cocky about Google+, the search giant’s recently launched competitor.Mashable’s Ben Parr asked him directly about Google+, and here’s more or less what he said (it’s a rough transcript — not precise):
I’m not going to say a lot about Google+, we’ve all only spent a little time on the service….The last five years have been about connecting people, the next five years are about connecting apps. We’ll see a lot of companies who haven’t looked at social begin to build it into their apps. Not just Google. Netflix is a good example, they’ve talked openly about wanting to be more social…I view this as validation of how this is going to play out over the next five years. Every app is going to be social. If we build the best service, there’s massive value there. If we don’t, somebody else will.
Seems pretty humble.
But at other points during the day, Zuck and other Facebook staff gave some pretty good reasons why Facebook still has the edge — all without ever mentioning Google by name. Like:
- This is all Facebook does. “Companies doing one thing will always do better than companies doing a million things.” Facebook is and always has been about social networking. Google already has its fingers in a million pies — search, advertising, online video content, music, mobile phones, and on and on — and is trying to add social layers on top of them.
- People don’t want to manage groups. With Facebook’s group feature, “everyone who is in the group knows that everyone else is in the group,” said Zuckerberg. Google’s equivalent, Circles, lets you put people in particular circles, but they don’t know which circles they’re in or who else is in them. Plus sometimes you’re simply following people — like on Twitter — but you can still communicate with them directly. Other times, they’re following you back, which is more like a Facebook friend-friend relationship. Overall, it’s time-consuming and a little focusing.
- Group video chat is a corner case. Google+ Hangouts lets users video chat with up to 10 people at once, while Facebook-Skype only allows one-to-one calls. But “the vast majority of chat is 1 to 1 today,” said Zuckerberg. This is a little misleading — Skype charges for group calls while 1 to 1 is free, so of course it’s going to be rarer. But even so, he’s intuitively right. Think about the times you’ve needed to make a phone call. Now think about the times you’ve needed to start a conference call.
- Everybody’s on Facebook already. Philip Su, the engineer who worked on Facebook video chat, said it’s a one button click to any friend “on the social network that already HAS all your friends.” That’s definitely not the case with Google+ yet.