So, there's a lot of buzz about Google+ (plus.google.com) and how it marks the end of Facebook. When I got the email from Lynn to join up on Google-plus, that was the beginning of this story.
One of my worst peeves about the computer and software industry is the close-timed, planned obsolescence. Adobe likes to obsolete 3-million users every 18 months so they can suck another 150-bucks of blood money from the user base. It's like Bill Gates and Microsoft -- every time they come up with a new idea they want to take over the world, they make it dependant on their own agenda and criteria. With that philosophy, you win if everyone else agrees, and you lose if they don't. Take Internet Explorer for instance. In Microsoft's unquenchable quest to own the internet they decided to ignore html protocol and rules and strike out on their own. The program still doesn't support many frequently used tags in web programming, so some sites just don't work correctly with Explorer. Microsoft thought the whole industry would shift and adapt to their browser. Epic fail. It didn't happen. Consequently, more people today use Mozilla, Firefox, or one of the other browsers -- and anyone still using Explorer either doesn't know any better, or doesn't matter. The point is, it was wrong for Microsoft to try to railroad the web.
All things change
I remember back in 1988, sitting around the table with friends Don Rittner and Kathy Ryan in a bar in Boston, celebrating how "some day" America Online would take over the 800-pound guerilla, Compuserve -- and how AOL would become the de facto online universe. Don and I had introduced the first ever roll-out of AOL installation software on our monthly MUG disk to user groups. Kathy was product manager for the fledgling new upstart company, AOL. Within a year, our predictions came true. We were hot stuff.
By the early 1990s, Usenet and the 'greater' world of the internet began to make itself seen and heard in the online worlds. AOL began to decline, and by 1993, graphical browsers and the "free" internet opened a gold-rush to the online community. In 1994, AOL decided it cost them too much money to support "communities" so they kicked us, and the rest of the user groups off the system. No bother, we immediately moved to the web. AOL, Compuserve, Delphi, Genie, eWorld and those "closed" online services could no longer compete, no matter how hard they tried. Game over.
All things stay the same
Today, everyone wants to re-invent how people use the interactive media. It's the same story through and through -- all about the money. All the big players, even AOL, have one goal in mind : make something unique that everyone will love so we can make tons and tons of money. So the endless quest goes on to be the next big thing. There's a whole trail of dead bodies along the highway trampled by the next big thing. Today it's Facebook. When My 80-something mother gets herself a Facebook page, you know it's reached the level of ubiquity. Now, Google wants to unseat Facebook with "Google Plus" and rule the world. Not so fast, Buck-O, Facebook isn't about to give up without a fight, and besides. Who in their right mind would give up Facebook to switch to another service where nobody goes???
Google made a slight mistake. They guaranteed to turn their backs on the 100-million users out there who are already on Facebook, happy with the service, and comfortable where they're at today. Facebook works -- all day, every day, on all of my computers and devices. It works.
So I key in my Google ID and password to accept Lynn's invitation and voila ... ! I'm obsolete. Google doesn't work on my computer. I look at my FireFox ... yes, it's the latest version... for me. It's NOT the latest version in the world -- I haven't moved to Lion on the Mac yet. I'm obsolete. Along with millions and millions of others. But Google is telling us a little fib. They say "no longer support" ... but they NEVER supported this browser. How stupid is that? Facebook works all day, every day, without fail. Do I really want the time and misery of rebuilding just so I can get into Google-plus? Hmmmmmm.
My other computer does have the latest and greatest version, so I'll join with that one. But the overwhelming point is : how stupid is it to intentionally cut off 90% of your market if your plan is to take over the world? How arrogant and egotistical is it to think the world will change just to follow you? What is Google thinking???
In his book, Google+ for Business: How Google's Social Network Changes Everything, Chris Brogan explains why Google+ could be the next big thing.
Chris writes :
You should be a bit skeptical about starting with yet another social network. And it's not like I know every person picking up this book, but some of you just started figuring out Facebook not too long ago and maybe still don't understand what all the fuss is about Twitter. And here comes another living-in-his-own-world marketer/business guy telling you that Google+ is where it's at, right?
But it's different. Google+ is more "open" than Facebook. It is more "deep" than Twitter. It's more rounded than LinkedIn, in that it shows off your personal interests along side your business interests, depending on what you choose to share and post. And, as a business person and a marketer, I saw immediate value in what Google+ can do for your business.
Maybe Chris is right. Maybe the world will change to be compatible with Google. Once I get hooked up, and kick the tires a bit, we'll see how good it is. But I'm predicting it will take a monumental effort of begging friends to move from Facebook to join Google+. I predict that the vast majority won't move. After all, there are still tens of millions of people on AOL. There are still millions on MySpace, LinkedIn and all the others now in the shadows of extinction. Many will join both or more, just to 'have an account'. (I'm in all the big five, but haven't been on four of them in weeks ... don't remember the last time I checked Twitter!) Having membership in more than one diminishes the effective involvement in each. Finally, I'm predicting that Google will sway enough people to put them back on track ... to rule the world. Whether we like it or not.
And ... thanks for reading