First up this is just an opinion piece, partly based on my time at Google and my experiences of dealing with Facebook.
Over the last couple of weeks, something has been eating away at me and I haven’t been able to put my finger on. Then this morning, as I walked past a newspaper stand I noticed all newspapers seem to have the same headline and same approach. Obviously Osama Bin Laden dead is huge news, but it got me thinking. Let me explain.
Media companies have been guilty for years of a lack of innovation. One newspaper puts a CD on their cover, the rest soon follow. One newspaper gives away a free download code, the others soon follow suit. This pattern has been happening for many years and doesn’t seem to be going away.
Now, it would seem the same pattern is forming between Google & Facebook. The introduction of Google +1 is an aggressive counter attack to the incredible rise of the Facebook platform across the web. Google is nervous about the rise and usage of Facebook and Facebook want some of the huge quantities of money coming into Google. All fair enough and makes sense. Or does it?
Whether or not Google and Facebook are media companies is a false argument. We consume their brand and use them for a myriad of services and uses. All of which need money from customers/advertisers to justify their existence.
The point is that they are falling into the trap of watching each other like ‘old’ media. I don’t want Google to do the same thing as Facebook, I want them to do different things that excite me, give me a reason to use them in different ways. I don’t want them to watch Facebook and look to outwit them on a social front – thats a battle at present that offers no real value to the user.
What should they do? Well, if I was in charge (its only a matter of time) I would look to make their most powerful weapon, PageRank, a new open social platform. No doubt Google +1 is a part of that, but they need to make it more powerful, more accountable and perhaps a bit more fun.
Of course there is no way thats going to happen, so perhaps Facebook if you are reading this you can have that idea for nothing.
No seriously, it’s nothing. I have others.