Google+ will fail. That’s a pretty bold position to take given that Google+ is in beta testing, and, after all…it’s Google we’re talking about here. However, despite the flurry of chatter, and the soaring subscriber numbers, Google+ will not be all that it is heralded to be. It will not be the Facebook Killer.
Google+ was launched with the typical fanfare that would be expected of an announcement that Google was getting into the social media business (again). These are the guys that revolutionized search and built a tech empire that has swiftly become the world’s second most valuable brand. The common logic goes that if Google can do what it did for search, they should be able to do the same thing for social media. And, since everybody loves a good fight, the “rivalry” aspect with Facebook is helping to fuel the buzz.
As of July 12, 2011, Google+ had added approximately 7.3 million subscribers, and was up to 10 million by July 14. According to one statistician, the service is expected to hit 20 million if kept at its current pace. When invites were limited during its initial launch, some even turned to eBay to get in on the action.
So, with the all the hype, interest, and backing of an online titan like Google, why will Google+ fail? It all comes down to the value proposition. The reason Google+ will fail is that there is no reason; that is, no reason for consumers to leave Facebook.
“In the high-tech field a new product or system is considered worthless without a ‘killer application,’” writes branding expert Al Reis in his book The Origin of Brands. “Take the Internet, which was something of a high-tech curiosity until the killer app came along. That application was email.” As of yet, Google+ features no “killer application” that would make it the assassin of Facebook. It may do most of what Facebook can do. And, in some instances, it may do it better.
However, in unseating a brand leader like Facebook — especially one that dominates the Social Networking category (even the word “dominating” falls short of describing how entrenched Facebook is as the category leader) — better isn’t good enough. If Google+ wanted to kill Facebook, as should be its goal, it needed to reinvent the Social Media category, and branch off into something completely new. Something so new, and so groundbreaking, that it would make Facebook obsolete.
But it hasn’t.
Instead, Google+ has opted for a “me too” brand, just as Google Buzz was a me-too clone of Twitter. There is nothing revolutionary about Google+. There is nothing worthwhile about it. It may be signing up subscribers by the millions, but how many of those will be active in a month, or even a week? People have stated that they’ll drop Facebook once their friends start using Google+, but if everybody is waiting on the sidelines, who will jump in the game? My guess is very few. The end result will be that Google+ has millions of barely active subscribers who will post on their Facebook wall about how lame Google+ is.