Google+ is a service which has recently been launched internationally on September 20th 2011, following an initial testing phase beginning on June 28th 2011. Google+ is a free social networking and identity service operated by Google Inc.
Witnessing the success of networking services, Google wanted to enter this market in order to compete with already existing companies. More specifically, it wanted to directly rival the leading social network Facebook, which in 2011, had more than 800 million users. By adding new features, like “Circles”, “Sparks” and “Hangouts” and aiming at individuals, as well as professionals, Google Plus was created.
A promising start
The Google+ service experienced huge success after its launch. It took only 16 days for Google+ to reach 10 million users, whereas Twitter and Facebook had needed respectively 780 and 82 days after their initial launch. After four weeks in operation, it had reached 25 million unique visitors.
Additionally, Google created a kind of mystique around this new software; allowing only a few lucky people to use it in the beginning and during the test phase, respectively. Those few people were then allowed to send a limited number of invitations to other people. Each Google+ member had 150 invites to give out. This operation created a buzz, as everyone wanted to be the “chosen one” to use this new service.
Google+: just another social network in a saturated market
However, I think Google has attempted to penetrate the networking market too late, as this market is already mature. This maturity of the market explains why people were first enthusiastic to discover the new service. They were comfortable with social networking and more globally with the Internet, and wanted to discover the new service launched by the giant Google. However, after only a few weeks of operations, Google+ has shown some signs of weakness; as the number of visitors has dropped, and as 83% of its users, that is to say 16 million people, are currently inactive.
The maturity of the market explains Google+’s proportional decline. “Slow and steady wins the race”, is seemingly not an applicable sentiment in this sage as Google appears to have left it too late; people are already used to using Facebook, Myspace, and Twitter, and don’t want another networking service that would take even more time to keep updated. Google simply should have known better! No one is going to tear into pieces a social network they have spent almost 8 years building up to start over from scratch for one that offers only a few minor improvements. To compete there needs to be a truly revolutionary feature to differentiate the service; tech companies half-heartedly copying each other is not going to cut it and can’t be masqueraded as true innovation.
Google+ has brought to the users some new features. However, in my opinion, those features are not significant enough to make people shift from the social network they already use (basically Facebook). That is why I expect this service to be a failure in the future. As a personal example, I have been one of the “lucky guys” to get an invitation from the beginning, but I am also part of those who don’t use the service anymore, because I already have what I need on Facebook, Twitter and Viadeo.
In my opinion, this service is not appropriate anymore and will be another failure for Google. The company has indeed already experienced several aborted projects in the past such as Google Answers, Google Checkout, or Google Coupons. Most people haven’t even heard about those projects, but they have been set up, launched on the web and then withdrawn.
Furthermore, Steve Yegge, a senior engineer at Google, accidentally published a very critical analysis about his company’s understanding of platforms, underlining the failure of Google+: “Google+ is a prime example of our complete failure to understand platforms from the very highest levels of executive leadership down to the very lowest leaf workers,” he writes. “We all don’t get it”.
Photo by Halilgokdal