It’s A Social Smackdown
Remember when Microsoft ruled the world? Me, neither. But it did. Windows was ubiquitous and while a mainstream user might have had complaints, they were tethered to the giant; the only game in town. There was little motivation to innovate when you had a virtual monopoly. While nerds and artists embraced Linux and Mac, the average user didn’t know that there was a better option.
Along came Apple’s OS X and the game changed. The UNIX-based OS served the core needs of the user, gave them next-generation iterations of the features they were used to having and also made it clean, intuitive, elegant – even cool. On top of polished base functionality, add a host of options you didn’t know you wanted until you had them, and a revolution was born.
Compare this analogy to the current social network giant, Facebook and scrappy newcomer, Google+. While it may seem patently absurd to consider Google an underdog in any arena, their sketchy track record with Social combined with the sheer magnitude of taking on the 750,000,000 member-strong collosus, makes the effort a steep upward climb.
Geeks and enthusiasts were onboard immediately and when the doors recently opened to the public, traffic spiked 1269% for the week ending September 17th to the week of September 24th.
The query is now, “Will Google+ supplant Facebook?” Only time will tell, though this is unlikely for a number of reasons. Firstly, while the comparison of Facebook’s usurping of MySpace is frequently referenced here, there are marked differences. My Space, while massively popular, had not woven into the fabric of our daily lives and expanded to users traditionally considered too unsavvy to embrace social networking. Facebook has. Most of us have parents (or grandparents!) who commonly log on. Secondly, millions of users have chronicled years of their lives on Facebook and while you can download a static archive of all your content and take it with you, you lose the structure and context Facebook provides.
This isn’t to say that Facebook isn’t reacting. In fact, some recent privacy and sharing updates, in their panicked catch-up-with-the-new-kid tone, have been downright MySpacey.
Facebook’s return volley hasn’t been entirely derivative, however. Leveraging something that Google simply can’t compete with – years of your life in pictures and posts – Zucks and co have launched the compelling Timeline feature, offering an interactive chronology of your life through the lens of Facebook. Concerns over privacy and exposure aside, it packs a powerful nostalgic punch and may generate some affection for the network.
History tends to repeat when not observed. In a world where Microsoft has yet to deliver a version of Windows that lives up to promises and press releases, the pressure is now on Facebook to defend its status as social king while Google revels in a creative boom.