Friday, July 8, 2011

Zuckerberg Talks Google+, Google+ Not Ready for Businesses

Zuckerberg explains why Facebook is the number one social network, and why it will likely remain that way despite new competitor Google+

With over 750 million active monthly users, Facebook has a solid position in the social networking industry. But with Google+ on its way, many are wondering if it could be a true rival to Facebook. Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg answered this question yesterday at the introduction of Facebook video chat, saying that many websites are becoming more social these days, but added that Facebook is unique in that it specializes in socializing.

Zuckerberg said that the last five years have been about connecting people while the next five years will be about connecting apps, and that many companies will look into making their apps more social. He also added that Google isn't the only company releasing a social app, but companies like Netflix have expressed interest in doing so as well. It's all about who will build the best app, because if one doesn't, the other will, he said.

After mentioning that he has spent little time on Google+, Zuckerberg went on to explain why Facebook is the number one social network, and why it will likely remain that way. He has four reasons for thinking this way: Facebook is strictly a social network, people don't want to manage groups, everyone is already on Facebook, and Facebook's video chat is more appealing. However, Zuckerberg never directly spoke of Google by name when discussing these points.

"Companies doing one thing will always do better than companies doing a million things," said Zuckerberg.

Google, for example, has invested in search, music, mobile phones, advertising, etc.

As far as managing groups go, Zuckerberg believes that it's time consuming and very focused. With Facebook's group feature, people within a group know whom they are grouped with. But Google's Circles doesn't allow people to know how they are categorized and with whom. Everything revolves around what you're sharing with whom, which, Zuckerberg believes is time consuming.

An obvious advantage that Facebook has is its 750 million users. Many people already have most of their friends and family on Facebook, and will be reluctant to switch to another network if all of these people do not go with them.

Facebook just announced its video calling feature yesterday, which is a joint venture with Skype that allows users to have one-on-one video chats. Zuckerberg believes this is a better system than a multi-person video chat (much like Google+'s Hangouts, which allows users to video chat with up to 10 people at one time) because "the vast majority of chat is 1 to 1 today."

Whether Zuckerberg is right or wrong about any of the above will play out in time, but for now, he doesn't have to worry much since Google has admitted that Google+ needs some work in certain areas, such as making the service business-friendly.

Google Group Product Manager Christian Oestlien noted on his Google+ page that the way businesses communicate is different from how individuals communicate, and that this is something Google is working on.

"We want to create an optimal experience for both," said Oestlien. "We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year."

In fact, Oestlien discourages businesses from making Google+ pages in its current format, and will shut down any businesses trying to connect with users at this time.

While Google+ won't launch anything business-friendly for a bit, there is a small pilot program that businesses can sign up for to test the waters.

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