OK, I’ve given you the reasons why Google will be successful this time, but why won’t what they announce tomorrow give Twitter or Facebook a buzz cut? Funny aside, I found this photo of Matt Mullenweg (the entrepreneur behind WordPress) getting a buzz cut by using Google’s Social Circles search.
Some things that will keep Google from giving either Twitter or Facebook a buzz cut tomorrow (yes, I’ve been leaked some info about what’s coming tomorrow, so you gotta read in between the lines here):
1. Facebook has a defensible position in identity. Visit Huffington Post, or tons of other sites, and you’ll see the hooks that Facebook has that Google is NOT going to be able to rip out tomorrow, even if they have a really great offering.
2. Google isn’t trusted socially. Google is so large and has so much of our data that lots of us really don’t want Google to beat up on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Google doesn’t have Mark Zuckerberg. Mark gets how to hook people in through social tricks that very few people understand. FriendFeed, for instance, didn’t get it. Neither does Twitter. Most people think of Mark as an awesome businessperson or a tech genius (his major at Harvard was computer science), but most people don’t know his minor was Psychology. He studies how people work and how they get addicted to things at a level that Google’s founders struggle to understand. Google’s founders are also not nearly as comfortable around other people as Mark is. Everytime I meet Larry Page or Sergey Brin it’s tough to get them to talk socially. Mark, on the other hand, hugs people and is easier to just hang around and be personable with. That difference translates into the software that Facebook makes and how it hooks people in. Look at the tags on photos in Facebook, for instance. They hook people in in a way that no other service has yet.
4. Google has big company disease that Twitter never had. Watch Google tomorrow to integrate tons of services together in a way that looks like FriendFeed or Facebook. Of course YouTube videos, Google Maps, Picasa, and other things will be linked together in an aggregated feed. Now compare to Twitter. Twitter doesn’t have these “strategy taxes.” For all its sins (and Twitter has many sins) it has stayed pure and hasn’t strayed from 140-characters of text only.
5. Google doesn’t have developers that Facebook has. Facebook has a whole industry of folks who’ve made tons of applications for its users. Many of these are lame, yes, but others integrate Facebook with outside services and, better yet, hook you in to play games or do other things. Think about how Zynga got so big by selling virtual tractors inside a game on Facebook. That won’t exist on Google’s platform. At least not tomorrow. Tomorrow’s announcement is another platform move, look for the developer-centric stuff to come at its I/O Conference in April.
6. Google isn’t willing to piss its users off to get to the next level. Zuckerberg is willing to piss off Facebook’s users by changing the platform. He is in the midst of changing his platform once again from something that was only for private friends and family to something that’s more public so that Facebook can effectively compete in search (or, at least, be like Twitter and sell its feeds to Google or Microsoft). Google just isn’t willing to do that over and over.
Anyway, what will the Google service do? It’ll put a final nail into FriendFeed. Not that it needed it, that service is on its way down anyway, because its team has been focusing almost wholly on the larger Facebook service, but it will take the real time aggregated feed I liked there and bring it to Google in a nicer way.
What else will the Google service do? Build expectations around real time search. Mike Arrington was right when he said he needs much better filtering last night.
So, look for a neat system to come out that will be useful for many of us, but don’t look for it to take much buzz away from Twitter or Facebook.