Thursday, June 30, 2011

Socially challenged

Google's latest attempt to deal with the Facebook threat will be interesting to watch. Remember, they've had Orkut, Wave and Buzz as their highest profile projects, but there's Google Profile and a lot of other tinkering around the edges besides...

Google+ is the latest project, and it's currently only available by invitation to a limited number of people. Initial reports suggest that the content is a re-packaging of existing function and not much new.

However, there are many interesting questions:
  • Will users migrate from Facebook? There's incredible inertia when you've invested time in building up a network; and it's hard to move unless others do too. But once a trickle starts the network effect helps it become a flood. Google will be betting on that, and on Facebook's increasing frustrations, especially over data privacy.
  • But Google is hardly free from privacy concerns of its own; it has lost trust over the WiFi data gathering it mistakenly conducted. And society loves the underdog; but when a company gets as big and powerful as Google (or Facebook) then the stones start to be thrown. It's quite medieval!
  • Facebook is appropriate for marketing, but not (as an alternative to SharePoint) for business collaboration. There's an opportunity in this space, but does a business really want internal information about products and plans passing through the Google indexing engines?! There may be an opportunity but it's far from obvious that, given Google's advertising-based-on-data-gathering revenue model, that Google is the best company to exploit it!

Yes, the fast-paced technology world is good for lots of things, including the drama of corporate battles unfolding before our eyes. Keep watching!