Google, who just officially came away from a major antitrust investigation unscathed, is now drawing some criticism in the press over its “requiring” of people to use Google+, or rather having a profile when they sign up for various services like Gmail, YouTube, etc.
Do you have a problem with Google pushing Google+ this aggressively on its users? Let us know in the comments.
It’s somewhat understandable that people who signed up for some of these services long ago, like YouTube, for example, don’t care about Google+. However, to completely dismiss Google+ at this point is to dimiss what Google is now. Google is not a search engine. It’s everything you do online, or at least that’s what it strives to be. It’s not just a Facebook competitor. It’s also an Amazon competitor, a Microsoft competitor, an Apple competitor, a Yelp competitor, a Twitter competitor, a Groupon competitor, etc., etc., etc. By this time next year, who knows what other services that it does not currently compete with it will be competing with?
Google wants to be everything to everyone online. Sure. But this is pretty much the same pattern that many of these other companies are following as well, which makes Google+ all the more important. It’s your identity as a Google user. Google needs users to have identities that work across its products, because these products are essentially features. It would be silly if Facebook required you to have a different identity for your news feed, for photo sharing, for video sharing/watching, for shopping, for search etc. Nobody would expect Facebook to require anything of the sort from its users, so why should it be any different with Google. Facebook and Google are starting from very different places, while ultimately working toward a very similar destination – to be the identity you use to interact online, and yes, to make money off your data. Facebook has arguably done a better job of keeping all of its expanded functionalities under the Facebook.com banner, whereas Google has its offerings more spread out over different domains, which leads to the perception that they’re separate products, when really, it’s all part of Google.
Would anybody really be surprised if Amazon, Microsoft, and Apple take on a similar approach to what Google is doing with Google+, especially as Facebook becomes much more than just your social network? Facebook is known as the social network, but it is already much more than that. Watch Facebook’s continued push into ecommerce, and even into search. People are still waiting for that mysterious Facebook phone that may or may not ever happen. Who knows, a decade from now, Facebook may be competing in the driverless car business. I don’t think anyone expected Google to be in that space a decade ago.
I don’t want to get too crazy with the speculation here. I’m not saying anything in the last paragraph will actually happen, but the point is, Internet giants will increasingly find different angles from which to compete with each other, because users are valuable. Every minute you’re on Facebook is a minute you’re not on Google, regardless of what activity you may be participating in. On the flipside, every minute you’re on Gmail or YouTube or yes, plus.google.com, is a minute you’re on Google.
Amir Efrati at the Wall Street Journal reports that Google CEO Larry Page was pushing the idea of requiring Google users to sign on to their Google+ accounts to view reviews of businesses, according to “people familiar with the matter,” but Google executives persuaded him not to do that, because it would irritate users. They were right, no doubt. That would irritate users. But that also shows how serious Google (and Page, it’s leader, in particular) is about Google+. This isn’t some joke of a social network that Google tries and we forget about a couple years later. This isn’t Google Buzz or Google Wave (no disrespect to those late products). This one’s here to stay. Why? Because…
Google+ is Google. Just as the social functionality of Facebook is Facebook.
So, not happy with Google’s forcing of Google+ down our throats? You better get used to it if you want to be a Google user. To the best of my knowledge, you’re still not required to interact with Google+ the social destination (plus.google.com) to use Gmail, YouTube, search, or other sites. Google isn’t forcing you to share a photo with your circles (although they’re certainly encouraging it). And don’t forget, you had a Google profile long before Google+ came about.
Now that I’ve written all of this, I see that Nicholas Carlson has managed to pretty much say the same thing in a lot less words several hours ago. Kudos.
Should Google not be forcing Google+ on its users? Is it really even forcing it? Share your thoughts.