Even though Facebook is currently at the center of attention in the social media world because of their large scale changes that will go into effect for all 800 million of it’s users tomorrow, Google + is the platform that has intrigued me the most of late. Google’s newest service was just recently opened to general public but as a beta user I have been using the site for about a month. Right now it’s definitely still in it’s upstart stages but I’m sure there was a period of time when Facebook was just getting started that it’s number of users was significantly lower than Myspace’s (Can Jesse Eisenberg confirm that for me?).
The decline of Myspace was fueled mainly by Facebook’s emergence but also because the site was too personal. I’m sure everyone can remember the annoying personalized color schemes and themes that their friends used to have. It got to the point where you could barely even read what was on their pages. There’s a fine line between neat/cool designs and all pink pages with yellow text. Facebook was simpler and it had the same core functions. If you sign up for Facebook you can add people as friends, tell them what your doing, see what they’re doing, post pictures and make sure everyone knew what your relationship status was. Oh, and Facebook also introduced the world to the sensation that is Farmville.
But now Facebook might be getting too cute. They recently announced some major changes to the site that will completely re-design the site. Though I’ve only used the new design for a day, I can say the simplicity has turned to clutter and they’ve turned a product that was brilliant because of it’s simplicity into an ever changing one that, more often than not, modifies itself for the worse. Personally, I love when things get sleek, new looks, but on a larger scale, people are fine receiving the same product if there is no need for an upgrade. I’m pretty sure everyone’s heard the saying “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it,” – except Mark Zuckerberg, apparently.
One of the core beliefs of designers and entrepreneurs is to be innovative, so I completely understand if Zuckerberg and Facebook’s design team are always looking at new ways to present their product. That said, it doesn’t mean their changes are always necessary. Additionally, much like Myspace developed a reputation for having some less than classy women with risque profile pictures dominate the site, Facebook is quickly becoming a hub for relationship drama, which may end up being the driving force behind it’s demise.
And that demise may be coming sooner rather than later. Even though Facebook has nearly a billion users, I belief a good chunk of those users frequent the site because they have a bit of a monopoly on the social networking field right now. Myspace hasn’t been relevant for years (and Facebook actually owns them now) and Twitter, even though it is lumped in with Facebook as a social media site, is a different medium in itself. But now that Google + has officially launched, I think that it is the next Facebook. And even though Myspace and now Facebook both had successors, Google + may be the end all be all for social media sites.
This reflects on a much larger point: Google is taking over the world. Seriously, think about everything Google owns. They own YouTube, the internet’s most popular video hosting site. They own Gmail, which is, in my opinion, the best e-mail service on the internet. They own Google Music, which is currently in it’s beta form and allows you to listen to every song you own on any computer at any time so long as you have your e-mail account handy. They own Google Mobile (or Voice), which is essentially a free phone service that allows you to make calls and texts from your computer for free. They own Google Reader, a personalized RSS feed that gives you everything you would normally read on your favorite sites all on one page. They own Google Chrome, their very own web browser. They own Google Maps and Google Earth, allowing someone to get directions or a street level view of anywhere in the world at and time. They also own Google, the web’s most extensive search engine.
And now they own Google +, a social networking site with a very professional undertone. Google +’s “about” page looks more like a resume than a collection of TV Shows you watch and, though not everyone has joined to site meaning it can still be polluted, there seems to be a whole lot less fluff posts about someone’s baby or what time they are going to sleep. The posts I have seen on Google + have all been professional or links to articles written by professionals. Pretty soon, things like YouTube and Google Music will be implemented within Google +’s system and the entire Google world will be able to flow through +. Your Gmail account is already your ticket to a Google + and in the future you’ll be able to share what kind of music you are listening to or what YouTube video you just watched with the click of a button. It’s not as if those things are incredibly difficult to do with Facebook but there is a good chance it will be easier and more fluid through Google +.
Google + also blends the worlds of Twitter and Facebook together. You have the option to add someone into your circles but you also have the option of reading anything that person has to say. And you have the option of sharing content with everyone you’ve added into your circle or with anybody that follows you. Google + has been very popular amongst folks like Mark Cuban and other talking heads because they can keep their personal things personal with “Friends” circles but they can also share their public thoughts with everyone that has added them to their circles and get feedback from them.
Google + also has a feature called a hangout, enabling folks to have a video conference with their friends or their co-workers. Now a business meeting can take place on Google + with accompanying e-mails and documents circulating on Gmail and Google Docs. And if they wanted to, someone could look up where their colleagues are by using Google Maps. Then they can call them after the meeting using Google Mobile. Then they can text their wife to let her know they’re coming home on Google Voice. Then they can listen to some Google Music or watch a YouTube video while catching up with all of the latest news on Google Reader.
See what I mean. Google rules all. And Google + is their latest innovation that will work it’s way into your daily life very soon.