We’ve written many times about how Google is turning into Microsoft. Here’s another example.
Recently, author and former Star Trek star WIl Wheaton noticed that Google was requiring him to sign up and log in to Google+ before he could give one of his videos a thumbs-up vote on YouTube. He posted a nastygram to Google about it on his Tumblr site.
(Google isn’t doing this for every YouTube user yet, but is trying it out, according to Danny Sullivan.)
Google should know better. Microsoft has tried this same thing for years, and it doesn’t work.
MSN.com has been the home page for Internet Explorer for more than a decade. That means that every single PC sold since 1995 has had a direct link to MSN built into it. MSN Search became the default search engine in Internet Explorer back in 2001, and has stayed that way more or less since (although its name changed to Bing in 2009).
But Microsoft has NEVER been able to leverage Windows into a successful online business. Microsoft gets lots of traffic to its Web sites — including Microsoft.com — but none of the individual services are market share or mindshare leaders.
Worse yet, Microsoft has lost billions on its online business — more than $2 billion just in the last year.
Meanwhile, dozens of other online companies have been able to build huge, thriving online businesses without leveraging another product — Google, Facebook, Amazon, eBay, Yahoo, and too many others to count.
And what was Microsoft’s most successful new product in the last decade? The Xbox, which didn’t have any ties to Windows at all for years. (Even now, the ties are minimal.)
Google has to make Google+ compelling enough on its own to draw users. Forcing people to sign up for it may give Google some nice user stats to share on its earnings calls, but it won’t build long-term success or engagement.