So, Google+ is all the (pardon the pun) Buzz since it’s launch on Tuesday. And apparently, people like it.
We’re having a bit of an internal debate here on whether it’s a legitimate competitor to Facebook. Part of the answer depends on whether Google sticks with it or throws in the towel early, but let’s assume they’re in this for the long haul.
In that case, my bias has historically been that it’s really hard to start a new social network – even if you’re Google. There’s so much inertia from users already having all of their friends, etc. in one place. But Web 2.0 has changed those dynamics somewhat. Unique identifiers like OpenID and public APIs (such as Facebook’s) make it much easier for users to transition – or for that matter, to tie multiple social networks together. Why couldn’t Google use Facebook’s API to ease the transition by helping to recreate networks and pull in content? Could Facebook shut off Google’s ability to use the data that they already make available to so many others? I suspect not without facing anti-trust attention of their own.
So, I’m taking the position that if Google can introduce a new way to think about social networking that appeals to users (though the jury’s still out on that), and particularly if they enable some integration with Facebook over time, I don’t think users’ existing networks and content in Facebook will keep them from also joining Google+, and perhaps eventually shifting over completely. And, I suspect, the ability to share with your “real” friends, family, colleagues, etc. on a selective basis will appeal to many people who are worried about the “all hanging out” aspect of Facebook.
What do you think? Looking forward to ditching your wall? Or is FB your BFF?