In Social Networking Wars Are Facebook Like Microsoft And Google + Like Apple?
The social network wars are heating up between Google + and Facebook with both sides taking shots at each other, copying features and launching new stuff every couple of days. In some ways the battle is starting to shape up like the old days between Microsoft and Apple when the Redmond based start up controlled the operating system on nearly every computer in the world and Apple was just a niche player but we all know how that particular battle is shaping up in terms of sales and market share. So now that it is looking like Google + is here to stay for the foreseeable future we ask who is going to win the battle and look at the many similarities between Facebook and Microsoft on one side and Google + and Apple on the other…
Facebook = Microsoft
Not only are Microsoft an investor in Facebook but they’re business ideas seem to be rubbing off on the social network. From the early days Microsoft had issues around the way they forced their service on to users and Facebook are trying to do the very same thing. You can’t really export your data from Facebook or move it around easily and Facebook are even starting to do things like ban app developers from linking to other platforms. While Facebook is functional like Windows is for Microsoft you can’t exactly say it is elegant or beautiful. Facebook have never put much of an emphasis on improving things like photos from a design standpoint but the one thing they do is they just work. Just like Microsoft Facebook also has a huge user base and was quickly able to grab market share around the world. Facebook have done this not because they have the best features or the slickest design but because they have everybody there, your entire social graph. As soon as something pops up that could be a threat (Foursquare, daily deals, Friendfeed etc) Facebook just either acquires the company or copies the best features.
Facebook might have started off as the cool place to hangout but it’s lost that in recent times as everybody from parents to grandparents have joined up. It’s no longer a young place but it is a place for everybody to hang out. Just like Windows Facebook is functional and people are used to it. It works. Facebook have also got their revenue streams locked down as a platform in the same way that Microsoft does and it is slowly turning in to a huge cash cow that they will be able to milk for years to come. Developers, businesses and brands are all becoming dependent on Facebook in the same way that businesses all over the world reply on the windows operating system today.
Google Pus = Apple?
Surprisingly Google have launched a product that is as much about beautiful clean design as anything. This isn’t what they normally do but they’ve placed huge emphasis on making the look and feel as clean and elegant as possible. Just like Apple had all the early adopters and techie crowd on board Google + can rely at the start on a group of passionate power users who are screaming from the rooftops about how that product is far superior to Facebook. At the moment just like Apple 15 years ago the general public doesn’t really care about Google + but when you have a group as passionate about it as it’s current users maybe it could start to have a growth trajectory just like Apple’s over the last 10 years.
Apple is doing as well as it is today because it has the best products and it sets the standard and that approach is apparent all across Google +. Everything they do is trying to improve on the current standards that Facebook have set. The games are more beautiful, the photos product is better, they charge developers less money, their data is open and portable and you have better ways of organizing people in to circles. The best product doesn’t always win and Apple struggled for 20 years before they really could take the battle to Microsoft and beat them. Google + will struggle as well but if they stick to their goals of making their product better than anything else out there like Apple did then they have a chance.