Why +1 Could Crush Facebook (And How Google Could Blow It)


We’ve seen Google make a ton of failed forays into the social scene: Remember Google Buzz, Google Wave, Google Knol, Orkut and other ominously hopeful attempts? Yesterday they were joined in hope by Google +1, and while many are saying that it too will fail, I believe Google has a SERIOUS opportunity here. But it’s an opportunity they could just as easily squander. We’ve seen that before.

What is Google +1?

For the unfamiliar, +1 is Google’s version of the Facebook “Like” button. Any page on the internet can be “liked” and webmasters across the globe can add “+1” buttons to their content, allowing visitors to easily like and share content they deem valuable.

The Wave of Buzz Before +1

There is one crucial difference between Google’s launch of +1 and previous services like Buzz and Wave. Think about the unique proposition of the past products. Google Buzz allowed you to “shout” comments to other Buzz users based on physical locations. Google Wave allowed you to communicate with other Wave users based on a “Next Gen E-Mail” concept. Google Knol attempted to collect in-depth reviews from users to create a Wikipedia competitor. Heck, Google even launched their own social network with Orkut allowing you to connect with a closed circle of friends.

All of these have three key elements in common:

  1. The initial strategy starts and ends with providing an awesome service to the end user
  2. The concept doesn’t properly reach it’s potential if critical mass don’t buy into the idea
  3. If momentum dies… so does the idea

With all of Google’s immensely popular services, with their ridiculous reach and clout, you’d think they could leverage good, new ideas into instant success. Not quite. With Buzz and Wave, Google learned they could influence a large number of people to try something new. But if all their friends weren’t using the service, what’s the point? Both services quickly lost their luster with Wave becoming (NSFW) little more than a novelty/comedy act and Buzz falling into disfavor due to privacy concerns. Although you can get users to try something new once or even many times, creating habits and changing existing habits is a completely different ballgame.

The Fatal Flaws

Facebook isn’t a social network with brilliantly original ideas. When MySpace was still successful (if you can remember that far back), any idiot could have created their own social network that did very similar things. Why was Facebook the juggernaut success story?

It isn’t just about Facebook being a great product. Lots of companies create great products. But is it a great product, in the right place, at the right time, under the right circumstances, in the right environment, and marketed correctly? Facebook enjoyed the perfect storm of momentum, growing organically and somehow fueling itself into the figurative snowball that became an avalanche of success.

Google, on the other hand, (with Buzz/Wave) built what they considered to be the perfect products, flipped the switch, and expected all the moths to flock to the light. I’m being a bit harsh, but it illustrates an important difference in strategy, and one they’ve diverged from with +1.

The +1 Difference

It might be impossible to create the perfect storm, but how about creating the perfect conditions for a perfect storm to manifest? With +1, Google is flipping the three elements found earlier in this article directly on their head, and it could be exactly what the doctor ordered for their social woes.

(1) Forget End Users, Focus On Our Users

While Google still fundamentally believes in and follows through with creating awesome products and services, marketing them is a completely different ballgame. People are finicky. People are creatures of habit. People are very different from one another and Google doesn’t quite have “people” – in general – figured out yet. However, Google does have one huge and strategically important group in their pocket.  What group collectively runs the internet and – in their own voice towards their own unique circle of friends – can motivate their “circle” to adopt Google’s products and services?

Webmasters. Think about it: what benefit do end users currently have to use Google’s +1? Almost none. Click the +1 button and see the number go up, but beyond that, does anything interesting happen? Not really.

Webmasters on the other hand have a huge opportunity by implementing +1… and run a huge risk in not implementing. Google has explicitly stated that +1 statistics can and will directly affect organic search results, a source of traffic that is responsible for the majority of traffic for most websites. Why deliver the message themselves when Google has an army of people closer to the end users, willing to recruit the masses?

(2) If You Build It, Bring It To Them

Field Of Dreams is one of my favorite movies on the planet and it features the memorable line, “If you build it, they will come.” referring to building a baseball field that will automagically attract the spirits of former ballplayers.

That’s what Google has done in the past: built it and expected them to come. And they did… but with socially oriented products, they left just as quickly as they came. With ideas that require a critical mass, you’ve got to have a more strategic and proactive approach then what marketers call “pitching and praying”.

This time around, with +1, Google is taking their product directly to the front and center of user’s focus. Not only will webmasters across the globe be implementing +1 in the hopes of attracting social clicks that improve their overall Google rankings, but Google themselves are walking the talk by showing +1 implementation in key places that define their business. For example, see what happens when I search for “phandroid” on Google:

When searching Google (which everyone does) and seeing the faces of your friends who have +1’d results, you’re forced to keep the service top of mind. If you don’t know what +1 is and you see these results, chances are you’ll be trying to find out. And since your favorite websites will likely be shoving +1 buttons down your throats, chances are lots of people will be +1’ing even before there are real benefits involved.

Google has also implemented the +1 button on Android Market, allowing users to +1 application pages on the web version of the market. Go ahead and visit the Phandroid App on Android Market and give it a +1!

Notice how you can +1 or Tweet but there is no sign of Facebook Liking anywhere? Yeah… that’s NOT a coincidence. The social war is upon us. Might they use this for ranking apps in Android Market as well? Possibly, and I’m sure app developers are taking note, suggesting their users +1 their application. Google will almost assuredly roll out +1 options in other places as well… but more on that later.

(3) Keep The Ball Rolling

Google Buzz and Google Wave lost steam quickly. The novelty wore off, everyone’s friends weren’t using it which made it less useful, people put it down which made it even less compelling and momentum went in the exact opposite direction as intended. Creating the perfect storm isn’t easy, but by:

  • Enlisting the support of webmasters
  • Incentivizing webmasters with better rankings
  • Plastering +1 and friends’ faces across their most visited pages

…Google is ensuring the service will get mass attention and for a decent amount of time. Webmasters will push +1 until it’s deemed useless and Google will push it on their homepage and other key places unless it fails. And it very well could fail if Google doesn’t follow up with more features. To keep the ball rolling, Google needs to extend a unique proposition and key benefit to end users. They’ve bought themselves a nice window of time by employing a new strategy… but they’ll squander the opportunity if they don’t follow it up with the awesome end-user product we hope they have under wraps.

Flattening Facebook

The Google +1 button isn’t going to do much all by its lonesome. But if Google is able to integrate the services they have made successful into one consumer-friendly social haven- watch out! Facebook only has one hugely successful product: Facebook. Within Facebook they’ve got some hugely successful features such as photo albums and up-and-coming features such as Places and Offers, but take a look at Google’s products that people rely every single day: Web Search, GMail, GTalk, Calendar, YouTube, Maps, Navigation, Chrome, Google Voice, Android and many more. Not to mention they’ve got their own picture service (Picasa), recently announced Google Offers and Google Wallet, and projects like Google TV and Chromebooks will further intimate the Google experience in your life.

On a service-by-service basis, Google is light years ahead of Facebook in key areas and if they’re able to harness all that power into one social system? They could potentially flatten Facebook.

They’ll never wipe Facebook out, but they can compete and possibly even win.

For example, with Google Maps and Google Nav on both Web and Android, they dominate the local search arena and give businesses a HUGE reason to cooperate and prioritize their relationship with Google. GTalk is tons better than Facebook Chat, Google Buzz offers location based discussion with friends, and Google Latitude and Places both offer incredible check-in and tracking type functionality. They’ve got video content locked down with Youtube and Youtube LIVE promises unique sharing abilities between friends. Did you forget about the announcement of Google Music? It’s all there…

Google is missing one key thing in competing with Facebook on the social scene: a single destination.

While Google has a lot of different services that people love and use, they all exist in their separate silos that don’t talk to each other. People love having one destination for each activity in their life and Google has accomplished this with many of their services. Want videos? Go to YouTube. Want E-Mail? Go to GMail. Want Maps? Go to Google Maps. Want to stay organized? Use Google Calendar. Want a phone? Use Android. Want Music? Google Music. Want Chat? GTalk. And the list goes on. But people also want one single destination for social.

Google has all the features and resources to integrate their amazing services into one user interface that allows people to share all types of various information with their friends, family, co-workers and whoever else they deem worthy in a simple, intuitive and fun way. They just need to do it. And now.

Where it could all go wrong…

As I already explained, creating the perfect storm is nearly impossible, especially when you’re competing head-on with a social powerhouse like Facebook. Google has all the tools to succeed and they’re building an environment to foster the organic creation of a perfect storm. That being said… it could all end up being a dud and here are a few key reasons why:

  • Lack of “Cool Factor”: Google doesn’t exactly have the “cool” factor when it comes to social and it’s a wildcard element that’s hard to piece together. It’s not just about the perfect service. It’s in the name, marketing, look/feel, and so much more. Google is known for many things but the social connectivity cool factor isn’t one of them… and overcoming that hurdle could prove problematic. If you ask me, Google would benefit by using a name/domain not directly associated with Google.com (think Youtube instead of Google Video).
  • Privacy Concerns: Although people like getting all their stuff in one place, people might feel that they already get enough from Google- also sharing their social information is just one step too far. For personal reasons, many people like keeping their social life separate from the rest of their life and by using a Google social service, many consumers may feel there are too many risks in potentially sharing information they really, really didn’t want to share. People like different outlets for different needs but will the masses want one company in charge of everything?
  • Anti-trust/Monopoly: It would be a great problem to have if Google made a social service so popular that the government came knocking on their door saying they’re too big. But the fact that this is inherently a risk is part of the reason the “cool” factor is hard to achieve- everyone likes an underdog and that’s how Facebook started out. Not to mention, the government already has their eyes on Google for this sort of thing.
  • Failure to Launch: This whole articles is predicated on the fact that Google +1 is the first step in unleashing a larger and comprehensive social strategy in the near future. Google +1 in it’s current state isn’t much of a threat to anyone. If Google doesn’t follow it up with front-facing end-user features, it’ll go the way of Buzz and Wave. Now that they’ve made +1 public, they have a window of time to roll out the rest of their masterplan. If they don’t have a masterplan? Bye bye +1. If they do? We’ll see what it is. But the next month or two will illustrate if Google has learned anything with the relative failures of Buzz and Wave.
  • Half-Bake Launch: Similarly, if Google rolls out something half-baked, people will try it for a little bit, not like it, leave, return to Facebook and never come back.

I have to think that Google planned/hoped to launch a lot of awesome social stuff at Google IO but just wasn’t ready. Learning from Buzz/Wave, they decided to wait until all the pieces were in place before they moved forward. They know that if they launch a Facebook competitor and it flops, consumers might not ever give them a second chance and that’s WAY too big of a risk to take by “rushing”. Now that the pieces are ready… +1 indicates step 1 of the plan.

But maybe I’m wrong. Maybe +1 is just another service Google is getting wrong. Maybe it’s a solitary service and Google doesn’t have plans to immediately integrate/promote it with a larger social product. The opportunity is here and now; Google should either capture it while they can or they should have waited to launch +1 altogether until they were ready. And don’t forget… just as Google could enter the Social Hemisphere in a big way, so could Facebook march into Google territory.

What do you think?

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Rob Jackson
I'm an Android and Tech lover, but first and foremost I consider myself a creative thinker and entrepreneurial spirit with a passion for ideas of all sizes. I'm a sports lover who cheers for the Orange (College), Ravens (NFL), (Orioles), and Yankees (long story). I live in Baltimore and wear it on my sleeve, with an Under Armour logo. I also love traveling... where do you want to go?

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  1. kick ass article. I’m already a Google fan boy so I’m ready for this!

    1. It must suck living in a world without google’s products that they make no money off of. Search, maps, youtube, voice, android, chrome browser & OS, mail, etc. Or do you use these and hate yourself for doing so since they are all paid for with ads!!!!! You need a hug.

    2. I’d say I’m a bit of a Google fan boy too. Yeah, they are an advertising company but they create a lot of really good (and free) services. Advertising ins’t their only product. It’s their only way of making money but they do a lot more than that. 

  2. i still prefere www.flattr.com, that is actually also useful for the content creator…
    (then again google ads could also provide $$$)

  3. Decent article but a couple of points from my end:

    1.  Calling Wave a social networking attempt is a poor choice in categorization.  It failed because it was an overly complicated web forum crushed into a email client.  At that moment I think you can simply say it failed because Google “didn’t get it”

    2.  You made a good point on having a central point to visit for google products, but it needs to go a LOT farther than that.  The bigger problem Google faces is that none of thier products integrate AT ALL.      Google is simply clueless on how to make their various products work and feel like one piece of work.  Our chrome browser doesnt feel like the browser on our android, which doesn’t feel like the browser in phone, which doesn’t behave or work like the one in our tablet … which is unique still form our google tv … lets not even touch addons for said browser sea.  Every try sharing data in this supposed “single cloud” world?  

    More than making a “single point to visit, Google simply needs to feel like you have a “google presence” that extends as you get more google products and then create an easy way to on click share your google experience with other google users.  We don’t need much more than that, the rest will come with time (I can search for people right form the google searchbar … why browse to “my googlebook page” first?  waste of time).

    They need to take a page from Microsoft and apple.  Stop “inventing” cool new apps, and start getting their existing apps to integrate … and the social scene will follow naturally.

    1. Excellent points.  I think you can summarize them all with one word: fragmentation.  THIS is where the real fragmentation is, not that endless “Android OS version” debate.  Once Google can get all their products to work with one another, there will be no stopping them.

    2. Google stated on day one that Google Wave was more of a business option for those to work on projects from different companies but have a rolling, flowing conversation in one spot.  I thought the author was referring to a different product as their social attempt.  Anyway, Wave was never meant as a social avenue from a general population standpoint.

    3. About Google Wave: it’s a communication and collaboration platform, and thus it already has a social aspect in it. The goal of the two main Wave creators, the Rasmussen brothers, was to enhance this old thing that is email with all the capabilities of today’s web : rich multimedia content embedding, micro-blogging-like live discussions and of course social sharing.

      2 examples that Google itself saw Wave as (partly) social:

  4. I agree with a lot of this article but I disagree that +1 will be canned. Even if it isn’t a huge success, I don’t really see a reason why Google will ever get rid of it. I think they can just leave it up and let it grow at whatever the organic rate becomes.

  5. i second that sure is kick ass article thanks…

  6. Facebook succeeded (for me) because it solved 2 problems:

    1) It helped me get in touch with old friends that I thought were lost forever.
    2) It helped me keep in touch with people passively, without relying on email, messaging, calling, etc.

    Google’s +1 solves no problem.

    In fact, Google’s whole “social” goal is dumb. I have a social network: Facebook. The only social tools I use are the ones that assist me in Facebook interactions: Yelp helps me make plans with friends nearby, and Tweetdeck gives me a more flexible way to update my Facebook profile. I don’t bother with Twitter, except as a way to see what people in my Facebook network are up to.

    Move on, Google. There are other worlds to conquer — this one has been milked to death.

    1. Maybe, but I doubt they will give up any time soon. Facebook could start a search engine and have a lot of data to back it and make it good. Google wants similar data to improve their own search engine. Algorithms can only go so far but knowing what people actually like goes much farther.

  7. C’mon guys, +1 is gonna fail! And fail badly! Spammers will hit that button to increase page rankings, people won’t care a bit about sharing his preference with their gtalk contacts when, at the same time, they can do the same with Facebook friends and without letting the world know (+1 is more “public” than “like”).

    No one will use +1 because +1 is good only for google, it does not bring any discussion on your wall, it does not make your friends easily know what you liked, it will need you to be logged in blabla.

    Websites will implement +1 like they did with buzz which disappeared a few months later.

    1. google +1 helps to improve search results for people who are logged in. And besides if you what say is true, foursquare, twitter, yelp should not be growing at all, because the network of friends on twitter, yelp and foursquare is very small compared to 750 million members on facebook, but we find twitter, yelp and foursquare are all growing tremendously fast.

      1. Does people really care about improving search results for free? I don’t think so. Twitter contacts are different from your google contacts and you have a “wall” when you use a twitter client to see your friends activity, with google you just press +1 and stop, no one knows except people visiting your PUBLIC profile, which is not that handy compared to facebook wall or twitter stream.

        1. dude,

          more than a billion people use google search a month, I guess a lot of users do care about google search. Google +1 is more like digg or stumbleupon, social is an extra coating on top of it to make it nicer. +1 is not intended to drive discussions, it is intended to help better search. Digg was nice, but the problem was it had no outlet, no destination, but google +1 has a widely used destination google search. Besides +1 is simple to understand, if you like a page or website, you +1 it and that is all there is to it. Don’t think ‘facebook like’, think ‘digg’ or ‘stumbleupon’.

          Essentially google is essentially trying crowdsourcing to beat spammers and other crooks who game the search results.

          IMHO it would be a waste of time to try to come up with a social networking site like facebook now.  Instead Google is following the right approach, they are trying to build up your social graph through other ways, gmail contacts, google latitude friends, google buzz followers, twitter users, phone address book, google docs etc. They are trying to make the entire web more social using a variety of services, they may or may not succeed, but it is the right approach to take.

  8. Please fix your website. I hate the pop up that I get every time I visit phandroid.com on my evo.

    I’m not going to download your horrible app, so stop the pop ups!

    1.  Thanks for brining that to our attention. This problem only seems to effect the EVO?  I have turned off the code until we re-test the code and figure out how to fix it.

      1. no it was doing that on nexus one

        1. MyTouch 4G too- can’t close the damn pop ups

      2. And droid x and my xoom. I don’t like to see it nearly as often as shows itself so prominently in my way.

        1. it shows up on my droid x2 and xoom

          1. add the G2X to the list.

    1. bing pivoted quickly. this whole concept of a +1 has been leaked out of google for quite a long time now. ughm… plus +1 on google.com had been out for at least months before bing took the existing relationship w/ fb (+disdain for google) and rolled a quick alternative, w/ some pretty clever marketing. I know of sites that were part of the beta before the rollout of +1 outside of google search well before this. But perception is what it is. If you think that google who announced +1 mere days after bing did is evidence of copying, then… I suppose your perspective is pretty shallow. Hey at least you know how to copy/paste a link. That’s a start! :)

  9. Nice article summoning everything up nicely. I think the front interface will be Google profiles, which they are slowly making more visible and more useful over the last few months. Group integration have already scheduled to arrive. Google profile project leader move over to Youtube, I suspect his job will be preparing Youtube to move completely move over to Google profiles, it will be the last service to do so. I expect the massive update coming to Blogger will include Google profile integration. 

    Google manage pages, a new feature that been found code, most people think this is only to do with businesses, Why I agree it will be useful for businesses, I also expect that it will also be use by general google users so that each service will have there own manage page of details, drawn from you central Google profile, but customer for each service by the user. I think Google is adopting the tactic of rolling out features bit by bit over many months, in terms of +1, I expect each bit of the service will be announce at different times, not because Google could not release the whole lot in one go, but by having a staggered release they keep people interested in the service and they keep it in the news. Think back to Wave the only reports I sure about was about the launch of wave and the failure of Wave there was nothing in-between or hardly anything in-between I do not think Google will allow that to happen again. The main reason I suspect Wave completely failed, and there were many reasons, but I think the main reason was Google limited it to invitation only, which meant very few people could access the service when it launch, and because it was feature complete, it only needed debugging and speeding up , Google did not have new features line up ready to attract people and reporters attention back to the service continually, and people forgot about it, and did not seek it out when they finally did get there invitations. Invites does not work for social network services. If you think about Facebook somehow when I first joined I was continually nag by friend requests, and so were my friends which kept us going back to the service and seeing new features. Twitter is not the same but it is continually in the news, at the moment virtually every day there is a story about twitters, at least in the British press which mean it continually attract people to check out and discover it services and the new features it added/ I do not expect one big announcement base on the above instead I am think Google is hoping that people will discover each social feature one by one across its entire range of consumer services. Google biggest play this month in the social arena has nothing to do with +1 but the People widget with in Gmail which is a far more social project than anything else they have release over the last months. An will add as a nice rabbit hole into social circles product and Google profiles. 

    1. interesting assessment and I agree w/ you here, in keeping w/ the article, google would be wise to elevate the relevance of people and their profiles. while they haven’t historically been all that interesting, I think once users really look into their google profiles (which I have) they’ll be surprised and because of the heavy google product usage and ubiquity of social will almost be compelled to pay some level of attention to it. Throw in some frictionless, exciting features (gmail etc. integration as with the People Widget), and the hook is there for further engagement. Really looking forward to seeing the developments coming out of google’s +1 people centric strategy. 

  10. Visiting this site using my Android HTC. Can’t see this +1 button anywhere. Reddit, Twitter and Digg yes, a new Google service visible from an Android phone on an Android fan site no. Am I missing something here?

    1. Do you see the phan app pop everytime too? Or did you a few minutes ago? That problem was on the EVO. 

  11. I’m not +1’ing your app until you enable SD support. Seriously, stop wasting my internal memory.

  12. Yesterday? Did I slip into a time machine because I’ve been using +1 for a few months now. The +1 page and ability to opt into it have been around for quite some time now. 

    1. ha. that’s made me lol actually. nah, no time machine, this “launch” is for +1 buttons outside of google.com search. So you get a button on phandroid and will see +1’s from phandroid pages on google.com search along with the typical behavior of “likes, diggs, shares, etc.” with the iterative counter as the button is clicked. 

      So yeah, +1 is months old – on google.com search results. but +1 across the rest of the web is new as of this launch. 

  13. There will not be another facebook, as in there won’t be a site that does exactly what facebook does and overtakes the #1 spot.  Frankly, its amazing that they were able to overcome the dominance MySpace had.

    I agree that if there will ever be another “king” of social, it will be the “internet itself.”  And if there is one company that comes close to basically being the internet, its Google.  I do think they’ll need a hubsite for people to check in at, but to make an impact, the majority of the interactions with +1 will need to take place off-site.

    1. That is what everyone said about MySpace before it. Just like everyone said AOL was unstoppable. And I seem to remember when Yahoo was the king of search no one thought was touchable.

      Things change whether it be via cultural changes or technology changes or upheaval change is the one constant we can always count on.

      This is not to say unseating Facebook would be easy.

      I honestly think Google would be better off trying to find ways to augment Facebook and make it a mutually beneficial relationship rather than trying to go toe-to-toe. 

  14. Facebook is a subpar product. The interface, settings, privacy, and on and on. Yet it’s still a continually growing monstrosity. Facebook was the less “ghetto” offering to MySpace and when mainstream america (Not us tech geeks that have a clue now, I’m talking about “regular” people that can barely comprehend what a computer is and really only use a PC for emailing and surfing the web) started getting onboard, it turned into an ever growing snowball that’s rolling down a hill.

    It’s NOT growing because it’s a good product that garnered rave reviews, and it’s definitely not because they keep updating it with better features and functionality…It’s because FB has become the place to go to find people you’ve lost contact with and it’s the place to check-in on those people you’ve re-acquainted with.

    I just started trying out the +1 and so far I’m already not going to bother any further…At least until they add a function that lets me see who all clicked the +1, right now you just see a number…Generic numbers aren’t very social.

    Beating Facebook isn’t about making a better product, it’s about figuring out how to lure someone that has limited interest/skills with PCs into using your product instead.

    There’s one company that understands this intimately, which is why their iPhone ruled the world and it’s also why they were able to bring a “Tablet” into the mainstream where ALL others failed before.

  15. +1 doesn’t really DO anything, does it? How the hell is another ‘like’ button going to compete with a social network – nay – THE social network?

    Seriously, folks… call a spade a spade. Android is awesome, but it’s one of the only things Google has gotten right (outside of search). Imagine if Google had launched Google Voice, and ONLY that, instead of Android and then tried to tell us that it was their ‘iPhone killer.’ People would have been like “um… it does free texting, and that’s cool… but how’s it supposed to compete with any entire OS?” That’s what +1 is — one singular feature that Facebook already does better.

    1. android is enough of a big thing to propel google at a furious pace for years, success in android makes up for their social failures. Owning a platform is a big big thing, just ask Microsoft, which owned the windows platform and that powered them for 2 decades and even now they are a big player.

  16. I think if they designed a social network that would communicate with Facebook effectively it would be a tremendous help. Part of the reason why Google can’t create a full fledged social network right now is because everybody has a Facebook and it’s so difficult to switch. 

    Services like Twitter can link to Facebook so if Google could find a way to easily replicate that they will be much more successful. If users have access to the posts and pictures that their friends on Facebook share BUT can be viewed via a Google service then that project wouldn’t immediately die because users would be using Google’s social network but can still have access to all their friends posts, pictures etc. Facebook has so much user content whereas Google’s social network would need to be quickly filled to get a user base.All and all Google should use their social strategy to make Orkut popular in the United States. It is popular in other countries but Facebook is quickly consuming users because that is what the majority uses. Google could market Orkut as a destination where you can access everything social. You see a friends picture in your feed with a tiny Facebook “F” in the corner indicating its source. Someone posts a status and there’s the twitter bird right next to it. This way, loyal fans of Google could use Orkut but still be attached to the rest of their friends from Facebook. Then, once the base is established, it would be a matter of making the service better than Facebook and once everyone catches wind Google will be king. 

  17. They need apps domain support.  If they are targeting webmasters, and they want early adopters to use it, they need to realize that a good number of those people are probably running their email via apps.  it may not be a huge number, but it seems like one that can make an impact.

    1. This ^^^

      The lack of support for apps accounts is a non-starter for me. I use my apps email account as my main Google account.

      What I don’t get is apps users tend to be some of Google’s biggest fans and evangelists but they treat us like second-class citizens. If anything many of these features should hit apps users first since there are paying customers (and big institutional users there ie .edu’s) but I digress.

  18. You do realize that the +1 on google search only appears in Chrome…. If you do the same search in Firefox, IE, or Safari you don’t get the +1…

    1. -1 booooo ;)

      1. wrong. 
        you have to be logged into your google account. its all teed off your google account.

        1. I stand corrected.  I don’t use my other browsers except for site testing.. It’s chrome for everything else.

          1. seriously though, among browsers… chrome is the best, safari (or opera) are the worst. I mean safari is really really not a good browser, just looking down at usability alone. 

  19. Maybe you should develop a mobile site for phandroid.com instead of an app. I’ll not only +1 that. I’ll +3 it.

    1. yeah, phandroid- your mobile solution sucks. For a site about Android, it really loads like crap in my android phone.  Take a look at androidandme.com’s mobile theme for answers..

  20. I doubt Google will ever over take Facebook, especially if they go by “Google (insert something generic here)”. They can, however, be big enough to encourage people to have both. Kinda like how Facebook and Myspace were at one point…

    They would probably have a better chance of just adding social features to Youtube since it already has an activity stream and what not, in addition to it’s popular name. Google Social or Google Network or whatever lame name they come up with just wont fly. Not to mention it sounds like your telling someone to go Google “Social” or “Network”.

  21. The biggest misconception about Google and social networking is that Google is already a social network without formally announcing this fact. Tons of people have google accounts through gmail, google analytics, webmaster tools, picasa, voice, and android. Through this google compiles tons of data about each account and people communicate

  22. wrong analysis, Rob. +1 is not similar to facebook like at all, +1 is more like digg, and digg was immensely popular for a while, before they screwed up. +1 is also kinda similar to stumbleupon. The sharing/commeting part is handled by google buzz, +1 exists to improve your search results if you are logged in, +1 is only a part of google arsenal to improve search.

  23. And at the bottom you have the Facebook like button, no +1!

  24. This is a solidly written article. Kudos to the author.

  25. What is “facebook” ? Is it like that old website that was called “myspace” ? I like +1ing things I can’t stop now.

  26. is anyone else in the UK not seeing this +1 thing?

  27. Until there’s a farmville equivalent on a google platform were people will spent insane amounts of time doing nothing, facebook will continue to rule the social world (and I hate those crappy zynga games!).  I’d love to see facebook die, but this is just my crappy opinion.

  28. I think another big point, and mentioned shortly at the end was the launches of these things.  Google has this stupid tendency to rollout this beta with people getting notified little by little.  That happened with buzz and by the time everyone got it, the early adopters became impatient and didn’t feel like using it because they were waiting for friends to join.  Then by the time those friends joined, they didn’t have anybody else to friend.  It was ludicrous.  Same thing now with Google Music.  I finally signed up for Amazon because I was tired of waiting for my invite to the beta.  Now, i see no reason how Google music could be superior to Amazon and i’ll probably just ignore the beta invite.  It’s silly the way that half ass these things like they don’t really care.

  29. FWIW – If you’re not seeing the +1 in Google search results, it’s either because you’re not logged in, OR because you, like millions of others, have the AdBlock addon installed.

    Once I disabled adblock for google.com the +1’s showed up. adblock really needs except the +1’s from their adblocking logic by default.

  30. What pisses Google off the most is that Facebook is starting to crush Google Ads.
    After running ads on both platforms, Facebook blows Google away!

    A. They are cheaper

    B. The demographic targeting is awesome! I can run an ad targeted to German speaking, female, college educated, dog lovers, aged 25-34, in 20 km radius of anywhere… Try that Google! Oh, what’s that? You can’t because you haven’t captured a user base and don’t have any data to target.

    C. On FB you can advertise almost anything. On Google you can advertise a website, but, it better have a good ‘quality’ score or your ads will be even more expensive or not get shown enough. And don’t you dare try to make money advertising as an affiliate!

    D. This is the ONLY reason Google is trying to go social, to collect data so they can target us with ads, and we know it, and we’re not going to buy into it.

    E. There is no benefit to the +1 button except for webmasters. Yay! Yet another stupid hoop for us to jump through to try and get a good ranking. And, the only way it will actually help a webmaster is if lots of people actually +1 the site. So having a low +1 score could be detrimental to sites that are otherwise great and have successfully jumped through all Google’s hoops to get a good ranking already by creating original relevant content.

  31. So… if you favorite a porn site, all your friends will see it?

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