Is Google+ giving Facebook a taste of its own medicine?

The Google+ project has achieved 10 million users, even whilst it is undergoing lab testing. In comparison, Facebook boasts 750 million users worldwide.

The big question everybody is asking is whether Google+ can beat Facebook at its own trick, by becoming the number one social networking site.

For years, both Google and Microsoft, major competitors in the search engine and advertising markets, tried to repeat the success of Facebook.

Recently Facebook was valued at $50 million. Its value is more than Yahoo!, eBay and TimeWarner. If the market value of Apple is more than $300 billion now, promoters of Google and Microsoft cannot sit idle.

According to recent industry reports, Facebook can pose challenges to telecom operators’ revenue. The social media has already started impacting the socio-economic policies. We experienced the Jasmine revolution in the Middle East, several social media driven campaigns in India. Facebook is virtually enjoying monopoly in the market.

Google+ however, is just another example of Google trying to imitate top ICT companies in order to be the best. Google today is still the world’s most popular search browser, Gmail is still the most used type of email account and Google Chrome is the world’s third leading Internet browser with a 20.65 percent user share worldwide, which is expected to reach 70 percent by 2013.

However, Facebook has been giving tough competition to Google, by first toppling Google’s Orkut – which was one of the world’s most popular social networking websites from its inception in 2004 till 2009, and then going on to beat Google search itself, by becoming the world’s most searched website. As of June this year, Facebook also beat Google in terms of advertising revenues in the US, to become the biggest online advertising social networking site with ad revenues for 2011 pegged at $ 2.2 billion. Some of the above facts may be reasons for Google to create a social networking interface that is 97 percent Facebook. Google has been unable to earn its sweet revenge yet, as ironically enough, the Facebook website leads the Favourites list in Google+, earning the most number of ‘+1’s’ – which is equivalent to Facebook and LinkedIn’s ‘Like’ option.

Many enterprises are cagey about Google+. Is it adding plus” to the existing social media available? Should we move to the new social media and start marking advertising budget for Google+?

If one logs onto the main user interface of Google+, it is difficult to distinguish many differences from popular social networking site, Facebook. With Circles, Hangouts, Sparks and Stream replacing Facebook’s News Feed, Friend list, and Chat, there is precious little that Google+ adds to Facebook, besides video chat and basic Gmail features.


Initial interest has caused the hype and a flurry in subscriber additions to the Google+ project, but does the new social networking site pack enough punch to beat Facebook and Twitter – two leading social networking sites today? Google+ has tried to create a combination of personal and professional space, with different circles for Friends, Family, and Acquaintances – as on Facebook, +1 for liking – as on LinkedIn and the ‘following’ option – as on Twitter. It also has a mobile and Android option, alike all the other popular social networking sites. However, all this proves that Google+ is merely a combination of already existing online networking mediums, and doesn’t really have any unique content to boast of.

The social media space will see more such launches. Google will continue to innovate and launch new products.  

In recent times, Google has tried to eat into other competitor’s market shares, by aiming to wedge a toe in every business’ door. Last year, Google partnered with Microsoft to launch Google Cloud Connect on the MS Office suite, to enable users to store Google Docs on a cloud platform. This was Google’s way of getting into the increasingly popular cloud provider space, and providing competition to popular cloud ISPs like Amazon. However, when Mircrosoft launched its own cloud platform – Windows Azure in 2011, Google one-upped it by adding a Web-based Microsoft SharePoint alternative to its Google Cloud Connect platform, letting users work on MS documents in real-time and then store the same on the cloud. Google also introduced video calling and video chat via Google Voice to beat top video-chat ISP Skype. Microsoft is now wondering whether it can get back at Google, by acquiring Skype for $8.5 billion in May this year. Google also got into the Android space, with its own Android OS, which now runs on an estimated 130 million devices worldwide. Apple did sue Google for patent infringement for this OS, but the rivalry between these two companies which originated with Nexus One (Google’s smartphone) versus Apple iPhone, continues with the cloud platform of both software giants, and the Apps store. Earlier this year, there were also rumours that Google was planning to enter the telecom space as an MVNO, with future plans to become a full-service mobile operator. While Google has not taken any action on this front just yet, depending on the popularity of the MVNO space, Google may consider jumping into that pool as well.


In an age where ICT players are often criticized for putting too many eggs in one basket, Google seems to be perfecting that art, and has turned the popular old English phrase into a winning formula for itself. However, the global giant should remember not to get stung in the tail by turning its winning innovator status into one of mere imitation and one-upmanship.  

By Beryl M

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