Although I’m using Google+ I know absolutely nothing about it. And I’ve yet to find the time to really explore it. The comforting thing is knowing that no one else knows anything about it.
Everything is speculation. People using it now are early adopters — and that is worrisome.
Early adopters tend to be more tech oriented than the general population. When you combine that with Google, which has never been the most “general audience” friendly company (read that as rather tech oriented), it risks evolving into something that is difficult for many average users to understand, at least without some learning curve. Of course, Facebook is like that too. I’ve lost track of the number of people who have asked me, regarding Facebook, “How does this work? What am I supposed to do?”
Google compounds the “What does this mean?” issue in the same way they obfuscated Google Docs when they decided to refer to collections rather than folders. “Collections” does make a logical sense but when dealing with people that isn’t always the best route to take.
In a world where a general population is use to Microsoft (folders) and Facebook (friends and groups), changing terminology is risky because it is confusing. In other words, when you bring something new into the world you can do any kind of naming you want because nothing is established. When you bring in something new and there is something else already established, you have to change the way people think. That’s not the easiest thing to do especially when you are dealing with fierce competition that doesn’t want that to happen.
So Google+ has some problems with their “circles” (I’m still not sure what they mean by that). Friends and acquaintances I like – that is simple and understandable because it’s based on how people actually think. It also adds something necessary to what Facebook has established, something that was missing. Of course all those hundreds we have aren’t friends; most are acquaintances — some aren’t even that.
That is a plus on the Google+ side of things. There are many other pluses but at this stage they are all potential. Everything people are currently writing about it boils down to speculation, some far better informed than others.
One of the Google+ pluses is that so many people want it to succeed. This has less to do with a love for Google than an annoyance with, and distrust of, Facebook. Still, it’s a plus. The caveat is that wanting something to succeed is not the same as success, so we need to be careful to separate what we wish for from reality.
Part of that reality has to do with numbers. I’ve seen a lot of people writing along the lines of, “Will Google dethrone Facebook?” as if it matters. Actually, I don’t think it does. Realistically, size only matters so far, at least in business terms. What really matters are demographics.
You can have 100 users but if they can only spend $1 each, you can only make a potential $100. With 10 users that can spend $100 each you can potentially make $1000. I’ll take the ten users.
The problem with having everybody (read Facebook) is that you have everybody. Your numbers may be large but how many of them actually represent real revenue potential? I know many people that are on Facebook “just because.” They represent zero dollars, however. They are so seldom on and are so disinclined to do anything Internet related (as far as spending money goes), they are irrelevant. They are still geared to print and traditional media.
My sense of Google, however, is that beyond their search product (which is like Facebook, reaching everybody), they reach a higher end audience with all their other products, as in one much more geared toward things Internet. I suspect on average there is a greater disposal income available there — but that is speculation, of course.
I think Facebook may be great for selling potato chips but when it comes to selling homes, technology, cars and other upper end products and services, those representing much more money, a smaller Google audience is worth a great deal more.
That too, however, is guesswork. But everything related to Google+ at this early stage is guesswork.