Facebook Can’t Adopt Any of Google +’s Features
Well, technologically speaking, they could. Nothing Google is introducing is in any way revolutionary. But financially speaking, it’d be suicide.
Let’s look at gaming, specifically. Google Plus does indeed have games, but they’re carefully segregated so only the people who care about them hear about them.
Compare this to Facebook. Zynga is the biggest provider of games on Facebook, with a CEO who openly admitted to sleazy practices. The foundation of Zynga’s model, and it’s a $1.8 billion business, is spam, pure and simple. Without those Farmville alerts that everybody hates so much, Zynga is just another Flash game studio struggling to get along.
Imagine if Facebook introduced Google +’s big feature, Circles. It would pretty much ruin Zynga for good: everybody would have a Farmville Circle and Zynga would be unable to reach anybody else. It would also mean the millions of dollars in advertising Zynga spends on Facebook would dry up.
So, no Circles. Ever. Even in the final stage of death, Facebook will cling to that.
Facebook Is Just More Evil Than Google, And Has To Be
Look, Google’s motto may be “Don’t Be Evil,” but it’s got a virtual monopoly on a crucial part of the Internet, and its tentacles in most of IT and even smartphones. Google is, at best, lawful neutral, for you D&D nerds, and at worst, lawful evil.
What Google has, and Facebook doesn’t, is far more disgusting amounts of money. Google Plus is not designed to make money. There are no ads on it, and it’s doubtful they’ll be integrated in any meaningful way. Ads aren’t what this is about: it’s about collecting as much information about you as possible, to target ads for you elsewhere. OK, so ads are what this is about, but not in a direct way.
This means that Google can sit quietly, watch Facebook screw up, and then step in with something that addresses that mistake. The biggest appeal of Google Plus is that you have much more control over your social networking than Facebook offers, or, as we’ve seen, can offer. Perhaps the biggest appeal of Google Plus is that you can prevent common problems like yelling “F*** MY JOB!” to your boss with Circles, and if that doesn’t work, make your online mistakes go away, or at least smooth them over, while Facebook tries to make that as difficult as possible.
Facebook, meanwhile, is at a disadvantage. Social networking is all it has. Sure, it has a lot of money…but not Google money. It’s trying to expand, but increasingly it’s running into the fact that the userbase just doesn’t like how the site supports itself. Who the hell was clamoring for a Facebook.com email address?
The ironic thing is that Facebook and Google are doing precisely the same thing: collecting as much information about you as possible. The difference, so far, is that Google is far more subtle about it and easier to use.
This isn’t to say that Facebook won’t survive: odds are pretty good that now that your parents are on Facebook, they’re never going to leave. But it’s unlikely to be the force that it was, and ultimately, to be the place everyone avoids because their parents are there, just like your local diner.