When Devin Anderson sent me an invite to join Google Plus on it’s first day of public beta, it brought back memories.
Memories of GEnie, where the concept of bulletin boards and email were polished. Memories of Prodigy and the early AOL, who gave us a more appealing graphics experience and aggregated content more efficiently. (I knew Prodigy has arrived in prime time when I saw one of the TV play-by-play guys getting his scores there during an Orlando Magic game.) Memories of PipeLine, the first significant service to directly connect with your PC, allowing you to use your own interfaces, without having to stay inside a walled garden. Memories of Mosaic and Netscape and black letters on a grey background. Memories of my brief flirtation with MySpace before sliding into Facebook while it still required a university affiliation.
These services were created by visionaries, each of whom raised the bar to take advantage of the latest hardware and software available to us at the time. Each were touted as “huge” and had amazing market valuations that made our heads spin. The people who bought (and sold) their stock at the right time found more wealth than we could spend in three lifetimes.
And each of these ideas has a shelf life.
Google Plus’ arrival on the scene should be a wake-up call to those analysts who think Facebook is a 250 billion dollar company. It isn’t anymore. I’ve lived long enough to watch every new, new thing rise and fall. Something will ultimately displace Facebook. Perhaps its Google Plus. Here’s why:
- Google Plus is better integrated – I already use their superb Google Voice product for my voice mail and texting. Google’s Picasa has out innovated Flickr in the photo space. And almost everybody I know has a GMail account, which instantly empowers chat and messaging.
- Google Plus is more flexible – Google did what Google does best, they studied the concept and made it better. The things we like about Facebook are all there, but tweaked just a little to make them easier to use.
- Google Plus feels more intimate – I’ve heard a lot of people say that will carefully consider who their Google Plus friends will be. Many of us pretty much blindly friend back whoever friends us. We’re not sure who is out there watching. And Google’s Circles concept takes that sensitivity to an entirely new level. Facebook will surely come up with something similar to the Circles idea. But the perception will remain that Facebook is the place where everybody sees what you’re doing.
- Google Plus has more resources – At any given moment there are hundreds of ideas in some stage of development in Mountain View. The culture there is employee centered and encourages amazing levels of creativity across the board. Some Google ideas pop up and fail fast, some slowly take hold, others turn out to be home runs. Most importantly, Google learns from their mistakes and keeps swinging the bat.
- Google tries to do no harm – At least that’s my perception. Any company as big as Google is will be a target. As they continue to grow the behemoth, regulators will be watchful. As far a I know, they have never hired people to covertly hurt a competitor.
- Google Plus will be ubiquitous – Application developers will ultimately integrate Google Plus into their existing platforms. Think Hootsuite (Not sure if Tweetdeck will because G+ is a direct shot across Twitter’s bow, too), Zite, Flipboard, etc. Google Plus will likely inspire people to dream up new, better ways to aggregate and disseminate your favorite content across multiple platforms, with G+ as the marquee.
The thing I love most about the wild and crazy world of tech is the magnitude and pace of innovation. Today’s golden child can quickly transmogrify into yesterday’s fish. Competition abounds, every day is a street fight and the innovate-or-die mentality is drilled into the heads of the survivors.
I used to joke that if cancer treatment had progressed at the same rate as innovation in the cultivation of marijuana, we would have had a cure ten years ago. That’s the intensity of the inventive vibe you get when you walk into any Google office, anywhere in the world.
If there’s a way to do it better, Google will figure it out.
Give Google Plus a try. I’d love to hear your reactions.. And so would they!