In response to John Battelle’s blogpost: Google+: If, And, Then….Implications for Twitter and Tumblr, I wrote the following: (Note such posts harken back to one of my blog posts about blogging itself: That is, if you find something you are interested in, and read blogs about the topic, often times your replies become long enough to qualify for blog posts. Also, by replying and leaving a link to your blog, it drives a little traffic as well.)
That was one of my first thoughts when I experienced Google+ that Tumblr was in trouble
Still they have a community. I’m on it. My impression of it is more of photo and gif sharing, but not personal photos as much as interesting photos, magazine like photos, that people are posting from somewhere else. To get attention on a Tumblr to post, the photos need to be striking, extremely funny, or otherwise “headline” grabbing.
Like Twitter, not a lot of personal feel to it, but fun, and I like Fred’s attitude that companies don’t kill other companies as much as companies kill themselves.
But my main takeaway from Google+ is not so much the service itself, although it is great, as like you say, it’s integrated with all of Google’s other services. Google may be Germany, but the seem to be the one company of all of these that has all the pieces. The whole is greater than the sum of the parts. And that will be a powerful value proposition.
It almost reduces Twitter and Facebook to applications on this vast Cloud OS, rather than platforms in and of themselves. And Apple, for all it’s wonder, doesn’t have a Cloud Syncing OS, much less a Social Network. I think Apple should buy Twitter and Facebook should merge with MSFT.
The deep integration of Google+ with Android will be compelling and I don’t see the “app” for the iPhone as being as robust an experience as it will be on Android. This could be a long term threat too Apple as well if they don’t get their Cloud Offerings together.
My introduction to Google+ was by way of watching yesterday’s episode of TWiG, which featured Bradley Horowitz and Vic Gundotra, the two leaders of the Google+ project.
But what caught me, got me really excited about Google+, happened in the minutes before the show actually started. Leo jumped on a feature of Google+ called “Hangout,” an instant video conferencing application that is automatic, and which can include up to 10 people from your various “Social Circles.” What immediately jumped out at me was how FUN, spontaneous, and effortless it seemed (as well as being productive). You don’t have to place a call to someone or schedule a video chat. If you see someone “hanging” out you can just jump right in, sort of like the serendipity of jumping into a Twitter or Facebook conversation (known as dipping in and out of the “stream”). But those are text, and this is VIDEO, and that makes a big difference. Leo’s first friend who “popped” into his video hangout was Trey Ratcliffe, noted photographer, and for some reason, watching it, there was this surreal feeling that Trey (who happened to be in Chicago I believe) was actually inside the computer, like behind a cardboard cut-out, instead of being thousands of miles away. It made me think of all those hundreds of avatars I see each day on Twitter or Facebook, if they could suddenly come alive, instead of being frozen as they are in still photos. Suddenly the internet had “come to life,” as it were. A marvelous feeling. Among other things that are great about Google+, it seems more “alive” than the other social networks. More living, breathing. And “Hangout” is a big reason why.
Leo said it himself, almost spontaneously, that Hangout was one of the coolest things he’d seen in a long time, and I agree.
The rest of Google+ is beautiful, engaging, and full of potential, but Hangouts is the killer app, I believe will drive mass adoption.
So the conversations around Google+ were inevitably “Will it kill Facebook? Will it Kill Twitter?”
That question remains to be seen, but I think folks nitpicking this feature compared to that feature, and on and on, are missing the BIG PICTURE.
The big picture is what Google is after, and I would argue has the most vision about, and the most resources to execute.
The Key here is that the Whole is greater than the sum of the parts.
If you take the individual pieces, you could say Twitter is better at what it does, Facebook is better, and Apple is better with it’s mobile OS. I think it’s fair to say that each of their individual pieces is better than the individual pieces of Google’s platform, albeit, just from one evening with Google+ it seems to be every bit as good as Facebook and perhaps better especially with the Hangout feature and the Social Circle feature, which makes it FUN to create lists. No one wants to create lists, but everyone likes to have them. And one more thing about creating “Circles” Did you notice how “Applely” it feels to drag so easily your contacts into the circles. It has the same feel as dragging things on OSX. A prime example of how an operating system can execute with the same feel as a desktop system. One little nudge in Chrome’s direction (Another piece of the puzzle)
But the key here is that Google has all the pieces. Think about it. Neither Twitter or Facebook has a mobile OS. Google does. Apple has an OS but doesn’t have a Social Network, nor the back end Cloud Syncing Data capabilities that Google has. This is why Apple and Twitter are having a “shotgun” wedding in iOS5 and why Microsoft is engaged with Facebook. But these types of “bolted” together arrangements rarely work. Two different companies, two different cultures. But still you get the point: These other companies don’t have all the pieces to bring together the new paradigm of the Web and Mobile being the new productivity platform. Google does have all the pieces. Their “jigsaw” puzzle type logo is now making more sense.
This isn’t just about a Social Network. This is about a platform of services that are tightly integrated.
What became clear to me last night is that this isn’t just about Google+ (as great a product as that is and will be), it’s about the fact that, with this launch Google has, in effect, reduced or ‘highlighted’ Twitter and Facebook-type functions as mere applications, powerful and important as they are, within a much greater whole, but not platforms. In a sense, they are apps without a platform and Apple is a platform without an App. I know that sounds silly with what all the hundreds of thousands of apps in the App Store, but what I mean is a data app, a cloud app, an app to Data Productivity Services that syncs all of your data immediately in the Cloud, as well as to a Social Network, which I am arguing is simply an “App” of this new Cloud Computing World. Apple Apps are wonderful, beautiful, but they are in a sense isolated islands.
Why is the Cloud so important and why is it considered the leading paradigm? The “Cloud,” as it were, marries the two most important aspects of the data revolution: Automation (Micro Electronic Revolution) + Distribution (The Telecommunications Revolution). Light and Electrons. Electrons for storing and automating data, photons for delivering, communicating, distributing data. The Cloud is needed to leverage the exponential productivity gains that comes from combining these two separate technologies. Each separately have given us productivity gains as great or greater than even the Industrial Revolution. But together the productivity gains are even exponentially more so. One which both businesses, individuals, governments, and society alike find opportunity and achieve higher standards of living.
Apple is trying with iCloud, but does anyone actually think they have the ability to compete and execute on that front (or maybe I should say ‘back-end’) with all the Data Centers and Engineering expertise in the Cloud that Google does? I don’t. At all.
Last night Scoble scoffed, “Hangouts is kinda cool.” Kinda Cool? What? That’s it? No other company on the face of this Earth could emulate what it takes to make that product happen at scale. Facebook can’t simply copy that feature. They don’t have near the resources or engineering to do it. Not to mention Twitter. Apple has the cash, but I’d argue, it’s not in their DNA. Apple likes to sell things, not connect things. Cloud Computing is not their forte, their passion. They’ll endure it, but I don’t see the product or experience as being particularly promising.
But let’s not get bogged down by individual features. Let’s look at the big picture. Google is the only company that has all the pieces of the puzzle, and as they bring these pieces together, it will invoke a value proposition that users would be depriving themselves of if they didn’t join.
Think for a moment about what I said about Facebook not having a mobile OS. It’s simply an app on the OS that you have to open each time and load your photos manually.
With Android tied to Google+ all of these signals, including photo uploads happen automatically. And that’s just the Social Network aspect, the social signal: Automation.
Google has a plethora of other invaluable services, Maps, Gmail, Location, Search, Music, Video, Cloud back up, automatic effortless syncing, and on and on. And they’ll continue to add productivity and all the categories of apps that people find useful. And with an OS that is tightly integrated with those services, I don’t care how beautiful your hardware is, how beautiful the interface is (I love my iPhone by the way), I’d bet my bottom dollar even diehard iPhone users will think long and hard about what their next phone is going to be, and in a year or two their tablet as well. Google is building and connecting a platform that essentially is the most valuable “content” for mobile computing and experiences. Even when they get around to an iPhone app, the experience won’t be nearly as robust as if one were using it on an Android device.
From this vantage point, Twitter and Facebook are looking a lot like Lotus and Wordperfect did in the 80s. Even though Microsoft Office wasn’t as good when it first rolled out, it iterated and became “good enough” then as good and then better. And the momentum was the integration and trust that came from the suite being tied to the OS.
The same will happen for Chrome, Android, Google Services, and Google Productivity suites all driven by the powerful backend, unmatched backend of Data Centers, the Cloud, and their unmatched expertise in those areas.
Before, Google was the backend that needed Apple for distribution. Now with Bradley Horowitz designing a beautiful front end for Google’s interface they have their own distribution channel, and a way to bring all of their enormous resources to bare in the marketplace.
Is Twitter dead? Is Facebook dead? Or Apple? No, not by a longshot. All of these companies are run by innovative geniuses who are not going to spit out the bit like Myspace. This will be a horserace, and a damn good one, but if I were placing my bets today, I’d say Google will win by a nose at the wire. They’ve always had the best horse. And now they have a winning jockey.
But in the end, the essence of the web is not a zero sum game. One can imagine all of these companies growing, being prosperous, and what’s more important, imparting enormous benefit and productivity gaines to civilization, all without having to annihilate each other. I’d say Myspace went down for lack of vision, lack of focus. In other words, not because of Facebook, but because of themselves.
John Wooden used to say that he rarely scouted the competition, that instead he focused on he and his team competing with themselves to get better. Twitter, Facebook, Apple, and Google all have this same drive and spirit. And what would be better than one defeating the other, is if they all constantly innovate, are “into” it, and in effect, all win.
Update: 7/2/11: I’m kind of angry. Today Tom Anderson wrote the following on G+, which is my same idea, yet it got an enormous headline on Techmeme via being copied in a post on Mashable. Kind of makes me mad, because I wrote this post on Thursday and sent it to Techmeme. On the one hand they must have put a small link to my post because I did get some traffic from techmeme, but nothing like a big headline they are giving Tom. Well, I guess that’s life. Tom is Somebody. But still, the idea is exactly the same as mine and yet they gave barely notice, but now that Tom said it, it’s the talk of the town, so to speak.
“Google+ seems like a “reaction” to Twitter/Facebook. But are you starting to see the ways that Google+ just makes Google a better, more integrated set of services? Google already has top-notch products in key categories–photos, videos, office productivity, blogs, Android, maps and (duh) search. Can you start to see/imagine what Google+ does for Gmail? Picassa? Youtube? Not to mention search? The +1 system that Google now has control of (unlike Facebook Likes) can really influence and change the nature of their search.
My original vision for MS was that everything got better when it was social–so I tried to build all the super popular things used on the web (blogs, music, classifieds, events, photos) on top of MySpace’s social layer. When Yahoo launched 360, MSN launched Spaces, and Google launched Okrut, I was shakin in my boots. But quickly I saw that it’s really hard to layer in social to features after the fact. At MySpace we had the luxury of having social first, and building the products on top of that layer. Then I choked and Facebook realized that vision. 😉
But Google+ really seems to be primed to make good on that original premise–that everything gets better when its social. And unlike FB, Twitter, or anyone else, Google already has the most advanced set of products. And if I can clearly see where this is headed, then I think what we are getting is a much better Google. Does that kill FB/Twitter? Who cares? I’d use all 3, but more importantly, I’ll be using Google products I never used, or use them in new, better ways I never used them before.
Scobleizer chimed in saying in effect this was a ploy to make Microsoft the enemy, a battle which he felt they could win, away from the real battle which is supposedly between Google and Facebook, a battle, which he and almost everyone else feels they can’t win. This meme has been going on for at least the past year and is growing more in intensity as each day passes.
I think it’s B.S.
Firstly, Facebook is in a totally different business than Google. Facebook’s in the communication’s business. Google is in the automation business, the computation business, the indexing business. They’re strength is in applying automation to areas that most can benefit from engineering as opposed to human finesse. They are an automated “librarian” so to speak, bringing you the “book” you asked for with an ad for something similar to that book’s subject hanging over their shoulder.
People say, well, all of Facebook’s traffic and attention is ad inventory that Google is losing. BS. All of Facebook’s attention has come through the value it has created. In other words, this is ad inventory that wouldn’t exist without them. You think Google, even if Facebook didn’t exist, would be fulfilling this market? Heck no. Social is not in their DNA. Engineering and Data are in their DNA. Nerd stuff. Stuff that is very valuable, like the self driving car, and the Street View product, but by definition is anti social. The kinds of people, nerd engineers, that build this stuff, are by definition, anti-social, or at least socially inept. They don’t have the feel or finesse for interaction with people or even for the user interface of humans with the TRON-like world.
Also, people don’t search on Facebook. The only thing you can search for is people. You don’t search for the answers to questions like you do on Google. And then there’s the “Facebook’s a ‘Closed Garden’ shutting Google out” argument. Again, BS. Facebook exists inside a browser. If I see something on Facebook that interests me, that I want to find out more about, I simply open a new tab in my browser and Google it.In this sense, Facebook’s growth is helping to grow Google’s business. And Amazon’s (Gary Vee just tweeted and ‘facebooked’ about his new book with an Amazon link. So Facebook’s “walled Garden” didn’t prevent me from going there, did it?) and everyone else who is providing ‘value’ on the web. Companies that create real value help other companies that are also creating real value. I don’t think anyone would argue that Facebook and Google aren’t providing real value to society and to the economy.
Think about it. What Facebook is doing is bringing the mainstream audience to the net. Every day more and more “normal” people from my past, folks who are not exactly computer or net geeks are ‘friending’ me on Facebook. And these folks’ browsers aren’t locked into only being able to pull up Facebook. They can open another tab and search Google. They do, and they are.
Facebook still hasn’t and I don’t think ever will find a “magic bullet” way to monetize. That’s because it is closed, so search on the site itself doesn’t exist. But it will still make tons of money, simply through gigantic growth. Basically it is, or is becoming the network TV of the 1970s. And those guys made a lot of dough.
Facebook’s a great place for branded advertising. I can’t swear by this, but I don’t think I’ve ever clicked on a Facebook ad. And I’ve been a member since 2006. Although that doesn’t mean the ad impressions haven’t had any effect on me. And I’ve noticed also that the ads are becoming better and more relevant each day.
Also there’s a Farmer’s Insurance balloon in flying above my Farmville farm.
So Facebook’s attention is translating into profits albeit not as efficiently as Google’s monetization system, but that’s to be expected. They are different businesses. And people spend more time on Facebook than they do on Google (At least in search terms. Now, other Google products, Gmail, Docs, News, etc. would be a different story.)
So my argument would be. Facebook and Google are two different companies who are in two different markets. The only similarities being that you access them through your computer screen or mobile device. They don’t fight for attention. They compliment each other’s attention. Facebook is fulfilling the key role of “legitimizing” the web for the mass audience. In so doing, it’s bringing more people online, who otherwise wouldn’t be, folks who will fuel Google’s growth as well. Facebook is the content, the entertainment, the public square, and private party. Google is more of a utility in this metaphor. Not as glamorous, but it does help keep the party “warm” if you get my meaning.
This is a VERY cool, and very paradigm shifting new site: Blekko.com. I caught this on John Battelle’s Searchblog tonight, got a beta invite, played with if for a few minutes, caught on quick and already found tons of new cool things that I wouldn’t have found before based on my interests and the ability to filter the searches to give me more accented, tailored, specific results.
My favorite musician, Josh Rouse. Now with a simple / “slash” I can search for Josh Rouse say only on blogs like so: Josh Rouse/blogs or only in forums like this: Josh Rouse/forums (Click those links to see the results of said searches. I also just Tweeted a link to those results. You get the picture, and that’s just scratching the surface.
New interesting information which is valuable to me as a fan, as an aficionado of said artist, immediately begin popping up at the top, based on my filters.
This is making me feel that giddy, ‘irrationally exuberant’ feeling I initially felt when I tried Google for the first time back in 2000. I felt I had the World at my fingertips back then.
But some kind of sludge in search has slowly happened. Some have blamed it on SEO/SEMs gaming the system so much that the results have slowly deteriorated.
I have no doubt that’s part of it, but shouldn’t Google have been innovating like mad to keep up with the onslaught of deterioration?
I’ll be the first to say that I LOVE so many of Google’s additional services, Gmail, Docs, Voice, all their wonky, data, cloud stuff (not their social) and that to say they shouldn’t have extended their reach beyond search would be like saying Amazon shouldn’t have extended its own reach beyond books, but it does sort of seem like, especially in the last three years of the Social Media threat, that Google has not innovated enough on their main product. It’s kind of like Microsoft jealously chasing everyone else’s success so much, they dropped the ball on their Golden Goose. (They did rally and sell 200m copies of Windows7, but still, no one would deny the mindshare, at least in the U.S. lost to Apple.)
I mean filtered searches seem like such a no brainer that you would have thought Google would have had them in right from the beginning. (Well actually they do, but no one can figure out how to use them, and usually the results come back blank for some reason as if the data base and or code running it act like you’ve done something wrong. It’s like when a car back fires, and you hear what you think is an explosion. Except this explosion is not a band, but a ‘whimper.’
Remember the movie “The Fugitive” with Harrison Ford? One of the best Movies ever. Remember that scene in the Hospital when he’s searching the database for records of people who’ve received prosthetic arms? His first search delivers hundreds, maybe thousands of results. Then he keeps narrowing the search by filters (I can’t remember what the exact filters were, dates other types of subsets) and finally gets down to a manageable number of results, and more importantly, results that have meaning.
Granted it was a movie, but still, that was 1994! People understood even back then before the internet was mainstream, that one of the most valuable automations of computers was search, and that one of the most important features of search were filters.
It’s mind blowing Google hasn’t at least already initiated these kind of easy filters for its flagship product. I assume they will soon and or buy Blekko.
I’ve only used Blekko for a few minutes. I want to use it lots more in coming days, but it already has such polish, and it feels silky smooth and fast, the kind of silky smooth quickness I haven’t experienced since FriendFeed, which for the life of me I can’t figure out why no one can duplicate, not even Facebook itself, which purchased FriendFeed and has one of its founders as its new CTO, Brett Taylor.
Remember how last week Wired published a story about how the Web was dead? Well I didn’t buy it. Thought it was link-baity gibberish for the most part, but it did have some valid points. Steve Jobs didn’t leave out flash because flash was dated. Steve Jobs left out flash to close off, to a large extent, the media distribution ability of the Open Web.
More and more stuff is happening through apps and other such ‘silos’ which does tend to negate the open web.
Well, although Boing Boing had a great rebuttal to the Wired piece, I do believe that if there is a sort of , how shall we say, ‘jaded’ feeling for the Web itself, I do believe a large part of the problem is this lessening of the ability to find the really interesting, cool, exciting stuff. It’s out there, but for some reason our discovery engines, the main one being Google, have somehow become clogged and stale.
I think Blekko, for one, can be like Roto Rooter to this clogged drain. These filtered searches are going to re-invigorate the joy of discovering on the open web, and in turn re assert the open web’s, if not dominance, at least equal importance to “apps” in this ever evolving, every life changing, and ever standard-of-living-increasing thing we call the Communications Revolution.
Google said their mission statement was to uncover the Worlds information, or something to that effect. Well they are doing a lot of other good things, but their eye, at least lately, has been off that ball at least in the long tail stuff, which are the hidden treasures. Maybe its time for a new leader. Maybe Blekko’s it.
Oh, I’ve got 5 invites. Just email, tweet, or leave a comment, if you would like one.
Update 9/2/10 From my incoming traffic I found this page that is loaded with good information about Blekko over the last few days. Links to 10-15 stories written about it in blogs and a ton of ‘real time’ reactions based on the hash tag #blekko. I wish I could just copy and paste everything from this page and post here, but I wouldn’t feel right. Here is the full URL:
Many interesting things were announced today at Google’s annual I/O keynote and meeting. Google “Wave” is now open to the public with no invite necessary. That should attract more users and get some “network” effect going, making it a more useful service. Another little one, kind of under the radar, is the availability of some custom fonts, free and open source, that you can easily grab the code for with a few snippets and apply to your webpage/blog. This is useful for design purposes and to have a little fun being creative with your page. I grabbed one already and applied it my header “Stephen Pickering” up there. What’s nice is, besides the fact that they are royalty free and open sourced, that since Google is hosting them on their own servers, the fonts will render properly on any “Modern” browser. I just checked on Safari, Firefox, and Chrome, and my header rendered correctly. Not sure about IE, since I don’t have it. Before, if you applied custom fonts to your page, more than likely other browsers wouldn’t render it, as they only support a few of the main fonts that are commonly used. But the Google servers make sure the code is there for most of the browsers to render it. Didn’t work on my iPad, however. I still don’t understand or like the fact that the iPad uses a “mobile” browser. Very lame on Apple’s part. Flash notwithstanding, the screen real estate is large enough on a tablet, that one should expect a more robust browsing experience.