7 Reasons Why Google+ Will Succeed (and 1 reason why it will very likely fail)

Google+ Hangout

Google+ Hangout

Had you asked me 3 months ago who would buy Skype, I would have said, “probably Google, maybe Microsoft, with an outside chance of Facebook or Apple grabbing it.” Invoking the “big 4″ in any question that starts with “Who will buy….” is not a spark of genius. It’s low-hanging fruit to pick the four big movers and shakers in the tech world as likely buyers when talking about billions of dollars.

The announcement that Microsoft bought Skype was a mild surprise, but now it makes sense. Google didn’t need the technology. They could have used the people (who couldn’t in Silicon Valley?) but it wasn’t worth the billions to them that it’s worth to Microsoft.

The Google+ Hangout feature is being billed as a way for friends to get together quickly and easily without prompting. A friendly flash-mob online, so to speak. The business applications are clear, but there’s a reason why it’s not being discussed, nor will it be discussed by Google for a long time (we’ll get to that later).

For now, we’ll simply note that it’s a feature that in itself has the opportunity to prompt users to get more of their friends and family going on Google+. Many will say, “but I can post pictures and videos on Facebook” when their friends and family tell them to join Google+. Hangout is something that Facebook simply doesn’t offer (yet).

Sparks=Revenue

Google+ Sparks

Make no mistake. Google knows how to make money. They may have only been truly successful at making money through Adwords, but they’ve made over $100 billion dollars off the ad platform over the years. Unfortunately, its days are numbered (in its current form) and Google knows it.

Sparks is secretly part of the solution. There is no indication and (oddly) very little speculation that the interest-delivery-engine that Google has integrated into Google+ will be a revenue source in the long run, but it will. Once the mass-adoption has occurred and people are lured into using this aspect of the service, ads will be sold on it. Quite frankly, it’s too wonderful of a concept to not monetize.

First, check out their introduction video:

Now that you understand the concept, your first question is, “Why would I use something like that? Why wouldn’t I just search for things that interest me when I’m ready to find them?”

Those who use StumbleUpon already know the answer to that. Eventually, millions of others will understand as well. The mass of understanding of what’s happening on the internet that Google possesses allows Sparks the ability to be a truly useful diversion on demand whenever and wherever we go there. It helps to eliminate the dying RSS feed, helps to expand on the news-aspect that Twitter has pushed along, and brings discovery to the forefront.

Most importantly, it’s active and allows us to be passive. It is working all the time and will help those who master it (just as StumbleUpon masters have learned) to receive new resources, explore our current interests, and expand or contract our scope to whatever degree we want. The world is moving way too fast to rely on active exploration. Having Spark makes exploration of the world around us faster, easier, and much more efficient.

It represents the easiest way for Google to truly create a stream of revenue that they’ve yet to find in social media. From an advertiser’s perspective, it’s beautiful. Imagine being able to target specific interests that go beyond active searching. Expose your brand, products, and services to people who are looking for what you have but don’t necessarily know they’re looking for it.

From a consumer’s perspective, it can be equally amazing. One thing about sites like Groupon and LivingSocial is that the daily deals are often driven more by a small sampling of advertisers rather than through our own interests. Google was interested in Groupon and there are reasons for that. Sparks is one of them.

Focus and Failure

Google Wave

The past failures of Google’s attempts at social media have been well chronicled. Google Wave (pictured above) was a convoluted mess with limited uses and even less understanding of what we want in a social tool.

The buzz and hype surrounding Google+ may not be earth-shaking yet, but it’s moving in a positive direction. We get it. As XKCD puts it, it’s not Facebook, but it’s like Facebook. As bad as that sounds on the surface, in reality it’s exactly what we’ve wanted from them.

XKCD Google+

Perhaps more importantly, this isn’t a toe-dipping exercise the way every other Google social attempt has been. CEO Larry Page has clearly stated that their focus is 100% on social media. They have failed miserably too many times to count and it’s not going to happen again, not on his watch.

Failure does that to companies. In hopes of not drawing too much criticism for making the connection, Apple was a failing company that brought back an old leader with a new direction that was greeted with skepticism in a way that most in the 90s thought the company would surely fall apart. That hasn’t happened.

Google has failed in the past, but they are finally focused. That alone should be enough to make Google+ successful, but the most important reason they will succeed and the only reason why they may fail still need to be discussed.

—>Continue to Page 3<—

Comments

  1. Andre says

    JD Rucker, it’s been a LONG time since I’ve read such a good post in general. All of this information is completely neutral, understandable, readable (meaning easy to read, I almost never click the “Next page >>”), enjoyable and in terms of journalism you are a professional. I loved the article, but I loved even more how you wrote this article. It’s been a while since I’ve come across a writer as talented with words and professional journalism as you are. Bravo.

  2. says

    As someone who is attempting to get a website off the ground, I am hopeful that Google+ will allow the closed gate mentality of Facebook will become a thing of the past. Thanks for the insight!

  3. says

    “We will follow the crowd if the crowd shifts to Google+, but the crowd has to be massive. If not, it will simply be another Google failure.” — i like that

  4. JD Rucker says

    @Andre – I greatly appreciate the compliments. Sometimes the longer articles are hard to write simply because it’s hard to take criticism on posts that take hours. If I’m going to rant and take abuse, I might as well keep it short. It’s a pleasure to know you enjoyed it.

    @Jared – Starting a website is tough and relying on Facebook to get going is nearly impossible. You need to be big to get bigger through Facebook – a terrible catch-22. I’m hopeful that Google+ will help the “little guys” like us get going and draw an audience because of its lean towards like-minded sharing.

    @Hugh – I appreciate your words. Thank you for the support.

    @Jamyl – It’s possibly the most true thing about this opinion piece. If Google can’t get it going huge from the start, it won’t get going at all.

  5. Jock Putney says

    JD-
    Great article. You articulate the functional value that google+ plus brings and their path to success. I see Sparks as being something that people will greatly appreciate. Who knows how his will all turn out but it is clear that people have an appetite for something new!

  6. F. Google says

    Oh wow, it’s a “great” “interface” – no – wait – two months later – IT’S ALL @#$% CHANGED AROUND AGAIN FOR NO REASON – rinse – repeat – bored arrogant google managers with nothing to do except “change” everything again and again and again, frequently, and annoy everyone.

  7. ManoDestra says

    It may well fail in the same way as Betamax vs VHS. It’s simply not always the best product that wins. Facebook is well established and with some tweaks would do most of what I need it to do. Twitter has a different focus for me. It’s simpler and more open.

    There are some things that Google+ appears to offer. The best for me being Circles. If that works the way I think it will then that’ll be a major feature. But as you say, it wouldn’t be all that difficult to implement that in Facebook as well. I’m pretty sure they will. It’s something people definitely want.

    However, something that I’m finding extremely irritating, and I wouldn’t underestimate the strength of this in others, is its terminology. Hangouts, for instance. In the UK, hangouts are places populated by 1930s gangster, goons and molls. They are not places for respectable modern people to “hang out”. In fact, we don’t even “hang” in the UK. It simply doesn’t exist. And Sparks is too generic. It doesn’t really describe intuitively what it is or does. For Google+ to beat Facebook, I fear it would need to be a perfect solution with enough drive behind it for a HUGE MASS of people to perform an exodus. I have to admit, I’m sceptical at the moment and I don’t think it’s going to beat the already well established competition.

  8. Keith says

    @ManoDestra I prefer the Google names over the overly simple Facebook names, For example Messages could take a new user to any number of places and mean any number of things, A new notification could be described as a message, it could be chat messages, it could be used to configure text messages and so on. At least by giving a unique name it can’t be confused with other parts of Google+ or even entirely different Google services. I see nothing wrong with hangout either, we may not live there but we’ve all watched american TV show where they ‘hang out’ at the coffee shop. And even then plus isn’t really out yet, so I assume hasn’t been localised to the UK yet something Google seem to take overly seriously, just note the ‘Under the Bonnet’ option on Chrome’s preferences which is ‘Under the Hood’ with the language set to American, similar quirks can be seen throughout all Google services. By the time the general public get their hands on it it could be called… The local, or something.

  9. Erik says

    Awesome article.

    One thing I’d counter is that … attacking and pushing is Google’s modus operandi. The slow leaked beta that was Gmail, was as viral of a tool as anything. It is the success that should be focused on. Google’s approach has been … if it is a good enough tool, people will come. Not only, “if you build it, people will come”.

    Also, Facebook displeasure is at an all time high according to online polls. And the ease of use that Google+ provides… is startling. Plus, it’s always at the top of my Gmail web page that I _always_ have up and running. I think they need to up their capacity considerably, though. Because now that the pool is filling with people, they’re going to need a bigger pool in order for this to work. I’m already using this “exclusively” (read: I don’t post statuses, photos or videos on Facebook anymore) with a group of friends who managed to get in, and I’m already being hounded by 20 more people to get invites.

    Viral on a good product + (Facebook’s closed walls * frustration) = Google+’s success. (In my opinion.)

  10. says

    Great article. What I am really curious to find out about is the mobile technology and how that will be integrated.
    As a social media manager, I can easily manage multiple accounts from my phone. Which is not my preferred method, but as everyone in Social Media knows, it has to be an option.
    And while I do currently have 3 gmail accounts linked to my phone, that originally installed account is the one that my phone has latched onto. Even individuals pay to have their social media managed, so I have to wonder exactly how well Google Plus will be able t tie into that.

  11. says

    My link is to my Google+ profile seems fitting… Having used the site for a little over a day it does so much right it is crazy… The biggest threat IMO is porn. Porn will get women to leave the network and with them many husbands will be kicked off. Google should be creating a solution to combat this before it goes public. That said the folks that are on the site now are awesome… my question can it stay awesome after July 31st. The ability to not see images by default from people not in your circles will be a huge key to that success.

  12. says

    Brilliant article. I’ve been using Google+ since Friday and I am hooked. It’s brilliant. I think what people forget is that Facebook and really got ‘huge’ around 2009 – that is less than 2 years ago – who remembers MySpace – or Friends Reunited?

    I think Google have brought social media and the internet together in a way Facebook never will.

    I spent a whole afternoon canceling accounts and calendars and galleries and I’ve put everything into Google – it’s so refreshing to not have to keep logging in and out of things knowing I can now control who see’s what.

    Personally, I think the ‘tipping moment’ will be when someone creates an app or plugin that will allow Google+ users to access their Facebook stream and visa-versa, but would require Facebook users to come over and comment on the G+ stream so they can see first hand what they are missing out on.

    Also, just out of interest, does anyone know if you have to have Gmail to use G+ or will just a google account suffice?

  13. ManoDestra says

    @Keith Yes, I agree. It is possible that there will be localis(z)ation options. I’d be surprised if they gave locally different names to major features though. I haven’t been on it yet so I can’t really speak with any real authority on its functionality, just spouting some gut instinct stuff based on what I’m seeing and hearing.

    Another thing which I neglected to mention was it’s “child’s drawing” style on the tour. That didn’t help either. That’s why Facebook took over from MySpace. It had a professional looking, concise front-end whereas MySpace was inconsistent and looked like the worst kind of web vomit you can imagine with animated GIFs and videos all over pages that took an eternity to load. Facebook sensibly disallowed user-defined CSS.

    Like I said, Facebook and Twitter are extremely well-established now and have different logical functions. It’ll take nothing less than perfection to draw the crowds away from their comfort zones.

  14. says

    People left other social networks for facebook and they will just as easily leave facebook. facebook better go public fast, because as soon as Google+ opens up for everyone you’re going to see that valuation go down. Furthermore you’re missing the point with social. It’s not called Google+ for nothing. It will integrate all that Google has into one place. So you will have search, social and applications in one spot. Google+ almost already is what facebook wants to be. The only place you will want to go on the internet. http://thesingh.blogspot.com/2011/07/google-empire-strikes-back.html

  15. Francisco says

    Great great article!
    Where’s the +1? ;-)

    Congratulations from a non-facebook user that, till now, didn’t feel the urge to get into any, non professional, social-networks.

    Let’s see if Google+ is the one!

    FNog

  16. Martin says

    Brilliant article! The only thing it’s lacking is a +1 button for me to click on! :)

  17. Martin says

    Oh, didn’t realize someone else had already made that point. Thanks for the article anyhow :)

  18. says

    Good article. I think we’ll see many users abandoning Facebook for Google+. Especially if they’re already using Google products.

    I’d be interested in hearing what you think about the latest episode of Google At A Glance. It’s completely devoted to Google+ with special guest from Search Engine Land http://netcaststudio.com/google-with-greg-sterling/

  19. says

    Outstanding article.. well written.. nice flow… I read all 3 pages, when usually I’m just a first pager… = ) Will be sharing! Where’s the +1 button? = 0 lol

  20. says

    “In reality, much of it is out of Facebook’s control. Their success or failure is, for the first time, almost completely out of their hands.”

    I can relate with this. For my site in particular, success is mainly out of my control and in the hands of bloggers like you.

    Million Dollar Earth is an advertising medium allowing businesses to own digital real estate and display their social profiles. http://www.milliondollarearth.com

    Ryan

  21. Change Mania says

    Good article but I still say it’s wrong for any large software company to change their interface or product(s) too frequently, i.e. every 1.25 years on average, because that impacts reliability and familiarity which impacts efficiency. Software is complex and it’s not something to be “pushed.” Google is leading this charge and it’s wrong. It strays from good engineering discipline and it’s not good for the software industry. And, at the same time they are making the user interface LESS natively-customizable, making average users conform to the product rather than the product having a flexible way to conform to the unique user. On the reliability side, it’s a good thing that microsoft, google, yahoo and other ENTERTAINMENT-based technology-pushing companies are not writing software for medical devices or the transportation industry. Otherwise there would be serious trouble. I believe many people are starting to realize that breaking the user interface familiarity so often is WRONG and undisciplined (youtube, google search, gmail, FB, ie7 /ie8, ff4, etc.) – this point also needs to be made.

  22. Change Mania says

    Good article but I still say it’s wrong for any large software company to change their interface or product(s) too frequently, i.e. every 1.25 years on average, because that impacts reliability and familiarity which impacts efficiency. Software is complex and it’s not something to be “pushed.” Google is leading this charge and it’s wrong. It strays from good engineering discipline and it’s not good for the software industry. And, at the same time they are making the user interface LESS natively-customizable, making average users conform to the product rather than the product having a flexible way to conform to the unique user. On the reliability side, it’s a good thing that microsoft, google, yahoo and other ENTERTAINMENT-based technology-pushing companies are not writing software for medical devices or the transportation industry. Otherwise there would be serious trouble. I believe many people are starting to realize that breaking the user interface familiarity so often is WRONG and undisciplined (youtube, google search, gmail, FB, ie7 /ie8, ff4, etc.) – I mean google is going to release a “new” MAJOR version of the Chrome browser every six weeks now? And Mozilla is going to do this now? What’s next some kind of Direct-From-Developer software cycle where the google developer puts the new release directly on your PC every friday afternoon? It’s absurd and it’s the opposite of “Do it right the first time.”

  23. Change Mania says

    Good article but I still say it’s wrong for any large software company to change their interface or product(s) too frequently, i.e. every 1.25 years on average, because that impacts reliability and familiarity which impacts user-efficiency. Software is complex and it’s not something to be “pushed.” Google is leading this charge and it’s wrong. It strays from good engineering discipline and it’s not good for the software industry. And, at the same time they are making the user interface LESS natively-customizable, making average users conform to the product rather than the product having a flexible way to conform to the unique user. On the reliability side, it’s a good thing that microsoft, google, yahoo and other ENTERTAINMENT-based technology-pushing companies are not writing software for medical devices or the transportation industry. Otherwise there would be serious trouble. I believe many people are starting to realize that breaking the user interface familiarity so often is WRONG and undisciplined (youtube, google search, gmail, FB, ie7 /ie8, ff4, etc.) – I mean google is going to release a “new” MAJOR version of the Chrome browser every six weeks now? And Mozilla is going to do this now? What’s next some kind of Direct-From-Developer software cycle where the google developer puts the new release directly on your PC every friday afternoon? It’s absurd and it’s the opposite of “Do it right the first time.”

  24. Change Mania says

    Good article but I still say it’s wrong for any large software company to change their interface or product(s) too frequently, i.e. every 1.25 years on average, because that impacts reliability and familiarity which impacts user-efficiency. Software is complex and it’s not something to be “pushed.” Google is leading this charge and it’s wrong. It strays from good engineering discipline and it’s not good for the software industry. And, at the same time they are making the user interface LESS natively-customizable, making average users conform to the product rather than the product having a flexible way to conform to the unique user. On the reliability side, it’s a good thing that microsoft, google, yahoo and other ENTERTAINMENT-based technology-pushing companies are not writing software for medical devices or the transportation industry. Otherwise there would be serious trouble. I believe many people are starting to realize that breaking the user interface familiarity so often is WRONG and undisciplined (youtube, google search, gmail, FB, ie7 /ie8, ff4, etc.) – I mean google is going to release a “new” MAJOR version of the Chrome browser every six weeks now? And Mozilla is going to do this now? What’s next some kind of Direct-From-Developer software cycle where the google developer puts the new release directly on your PC every friday afternoon? It’s absurd and it’s the opposite of “Do it right the first time.” Anyway – sorry for the “rant” post a few days ago. This post is a better explanation hopefully.

  25. James says

    Clicking “continue to page 2″ shows this message:

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  26. says

    With so many people on Facebook i’m not to sure about how many people would be willing to drop all their “work” that they put on their Facebook page to switch over to Google+. Yes, right now Google+ is the new thing to do thats one of the reasons so many people are flocking over to it. ( I, also flocked couldn’t wait to get an invite) It’s like a new toy. When young kids get a brand new toy they play with it for couple days and drop it and go to either a newer toy or back to the classics *Facebook*.

  27. says

    There are many things that Google+ appear to offer and also they are useful for us.No one other social media provide to us.According to me best features of Google+ is:Sharing,Live video chat,easier to find stuff to share,strong group chat feature and privacy.

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