Zuckerberg Assesses The Google+ Threat

    December 5, 2011
    Josh Wolford

Despite whether or not anyone from Facebook truly sees Google+ as a threat, or if anyone at Google even has it in their mind that the new social network is in direct competition with the veteran service – it’s always interesting to hear one side talk about the other.

In the area of Mark Zuckerberg talking about Google+, we haven’t really had a lot of work with. A couple of weeks ago, Zuckerberg told Charlie Rose that Google was building “it’s own little Facebook.” Google’s Bradley Horowitz later fired back that they were “delighted to be underestimated.” Hardcore, right? This type of intense combat can only happen in the high-stakes world of social media.

Now, we get another soundbite from Zuckerberg on Google+. This one comes from a BBC profile that aired on Sunday, where Facebook’s CEO was asked if he sees Google+ as a threat. Here’s the response:

Yeah Google’s a great company and I think we want to look at and learn from everything that they do. But at the same time, people have shared a lot on Facebook and have already told a lot of their life story on Facebook. And we think that we have by far better tools for doing that.

In that short answer, Zuckerberg outlines the main reason why Google+ would fight an almost impossibly uphill battle in directly challenging Facebook on pure, standalone social grounds: Facebook is just too engrained in everything that people do online. It’s been on the block for so long that it’s nearly impossible for people to disconnect their online (and sometimes real-life) presence from the site. Google+ is undeniably late to the party.

But of course, Google is not even trying to topple the mighty giant, if you listen to Google. They have been hammering home the “Google+ is Google” mantra for the past few months. The aforementioned Horowitz recently said that “Google+ is not a siloed product. It is not divorced from the rest of Google, instead it is a new way of using all the Google services that you know and love.”

Or think of it this way: Google says they don’t want Google+ to be a standalone site – just somewhere you go to be on a social network.

“It is a platform which allows us to bring social elements into all the services and products that we offer. So you have seen YouTube come into Google+; you’ve seen Google+ with ‘direct connect’ go into our search business. We are trying to make sure we use social signals across all of our products… It’s not just about getting people together on one site and calling it a social network,” said CBO Nikesh Arora earlier this month.

Google might have a different strategy for Google+ than simply replacing Facebook, but when you think about how much influence Google yields over the web, you can’t imagine that Mark Zuckerberg lets their social initiative stray too far from his mind.

[We previously had the entire interview embedded from YouTube, but it has since been yanked due to copyright claims from the BBC. Those of you in the UK can watch it on the BBC site]