some thought on Google's failure on social network
Before I get into anything, I just want to say that I'm not trying to make any absolute statements here. This is all just about expressing personal opinions.
Now let's get to business. What do you think of Google plus? For me, after adding a couple of friends into the "circles" from my Google account, I stopped using it as I did with Google buzz, which by the way is getting removed from Gmail. It's not surprising at all, really. They ask me to export my "buzz" if I want to. I don't think I would, since most of my posts are shared articles from Google Reader anyway. I just don't think that Google plus would succeed. Here's why.
To me, the key to a successful social network is to be the first of its kind. That explains why twitter is a hit, Facebook is a hit, but Google's social products (Orkut, Buzz, and now Google plus) are not.
I can't really say much about the pre-Facebook period of social network, because since I ever started using any kind of online social platform, Facebook was already there. I remember using Myspace for a very short window, but what all I had was some bands I met at a rock concert. Of course, that is Myspace's thing-a social network for music.
Anyway, Facebook was the first of its kind, or at least first of its kind that got to people, and so was twitter. We all know what's essential to any popular Internet service is to have people keep coming back to it and hopefully eventually stay and build up. The reason why I think it's so important to be the first is that being the first means you get to have people building their virtual circle of life and friends on your platform ahead of anyone else. That becomes powerful later. Once people started building their life on your platform, and having their friends doing the same thing, soon their relationship with the site will be "sticky". My personal experience is that it's so hard for me to shift to Orkut, Buzz, or you+ because all my friends are on Facebook or the Chinese equivalent of Facebook, and it's so hard to move all my friends to another network just to do the same thing as we've been doing, and it makes no sense anyway.
Twitter is successful, because Jack Dorsey and his co-founders are smart. They didn't compete with Facebook directly, instead, they find another way for people to interact with each other. After getting used to the way we normally interact on the web via Facebook, it's nice to use short sentences containing only 140 characters to express our feelings for a change. And the instant reply and re-tweet just makes communication feel so intuitive and fun. Twitter helps people build their virtual relationships on another platform without making them start all over again. It's an addition to what people already have, not a replacement of anything we have gotten used to.
Another thing I want to mention is that Facebook and twitter, due to their unique features, are utilized on different devices-Facebook is more suited for large screens, such as a tablet or a laptop, while twitter is viewed more comfortably on smaller screens such as a smart phone with a touch screen whose size varies from 3.2 inches (e.g. HTC magic) to 5.3 inches (e.g. Sumsung galaxy note). The reason for the differentiation is simple: Facebook contains multiple media (pictures, videos, share web pages, etc.) all in one single page, making a smart phone kind of small to show a lot of information at once, whereas what's special about twitter is that what you see on the screen are only short lines of words (140 characters), with more detailed information hidden in the back. Next thing you know, it looks perfect to read tweet streams on a reasonably smaller device. With people becoming more and more mobile, I can see how twitter gets increasingly popular. So I think, unless Google comes up with a third way in which people can ‘talk' on the web, or a successful hybrid, and makes sure that it works great on both mobile devices, like phones and tablets, as well as less mobile devices, such as laptops or desktops, it wouldn't stand a chance in the competition against Facebook or twitter.
You see, I love Google and its amazing utility products, such as Gmail, Google docs, Google calendar, Google maps, just to name a few. I really hope Google can succeed in the digital social industry as they did in the field of Internet search. And I truly look forward to having a great experience on the Google-made social platform. But as for now, I can only wish Google the best.