Google+: Its Influence and Impact

Google+, Google's new, invite-only social network, has generated much hype and excitement over the past few days. At this point, there is one obvious question:

How will Google+ impact Facebook?

In short, it will give Facebook its first legitimate domestic challenger since Myspace's rapid demise as a social network. Google+'s slick interface, abundance of features (Sparks, Hangouts), and simple method of sharing information selectively (Circles) will allow it to grow and become stronger once it becomes public. Personally, I like Google+ more: it's snappier, much more aesthetically pleasing, and is easier to set up if you already have a Google account. Google+'s advantages will force Facebook to cave into user's demands, and add new features. However, I see three potential problems stopping Google+ from becoming the next Facebook.

1) Facebook (unofficially) has 750 million users. Seriously, that number is near 11% of the planet's population. That's staggering. It'll take years/decades for Google+ to reach that, if ever. 

2) The audience that has allowed Facebook to become the dominant online social experience, the older, less tech-inclined demographic, would probably find it frustrating to have to restart the whole online social network all over again. Most will not want to have to keep two online personal social lives, so I think that it will be exteremely hard for Google to create a mass exodus from Facebook, when most are already on it. 

3) Almost all of Google+'s exclusive features are an update away on Facebook at Mark Zuckerburg's discretion. You can already replicate Circles by making a list on Facebook. Also, according to ZDNet, Facebook will launch a Skype-integrated, in-browser video chat on Wednesday, which would have similar functionality to Google+'s Hangouts. 

Overall, I think Facebook will not be threatened by Google+ when it becomes public. Also, the hype surrounding it already is starting to die down in the tech community, and the amount of time, marketing and resources it would take for Google+ to become as influential as Facebook is daunting. Don't get me wrong; Google+ is impressive, maybe even better than Facebook, but 750,000,000 is too great of a head start.

To learn more about the features of Google+, read the It's All Tech walkthrough by Ben Hollberg.

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