Welcome to Coffee Talk! Let’s start off the day by discussing whatever is on your (nerd chic) mind. Every morning I’ll kick off a discussion and I’m counting on you to participate in it. If you’re not feelin’ my topic, feel free to start a chat with your fellow readers and see where it takes you. Whether you’re talking about videogames, the Yankees jobbing to Tampa Bay to stick it to the Red Sox, Facebook and Spotify sitting in a tree, or remembering your favorite indie-pop bands from 2001, Coffee Talk is the place to do it.
It’s frustrating talking about Google+ with my friends in the videogame business. Most of them are missing the big picture. Most of them can’t think of it in terms other than Google+ vs. Facebook. Certainly Google+ competes with social networks like Facebook and Twitter. It even competes with messaging services like BlackBerry Messenger and the upcoming iMessenger. While it’s fun for writers, analysts, and consumers to talk about these “wars”, that’s really not what Google+ is about. Ultimately, it all comes down to search.
Remember way back in 2007 when Microsoft invested $240-million in Facebook? At the time, Google was concerned about two of its biggest rivals teaming up. Remember earlier this year when Microsoft’s Bing search engine got a huge social boost powered by Facebook “likes”? That’s when Google’s biggest fears about the partnership were realized.
Although it has its fingers in many pies, at the end of the day, Google is a search company that makes the vast majority of its money serving ads. Google was not pleased that the most popular social network in the world was helping Bing serve up more relevant results and serve more relevant ads. This is what Google+ is really about — the socialization of Google search.
As someone with nerd friends in Silicon Valley and the videogame industry, I have a lot of friends and acquaintances that actively use Google+. More importantly, they actively use the “+1″ buttons found on numerous articles. When I search for something on Google that’s tech or game related, I usually see articles that my friends have recommended. This is enormously powerful! I’m more likely to click on a link that my friends recommend than one without that seal of approval.
While some people at Google would love to see the Google+ installed base surpass that of Facebook’s, I’m sure that most don’t see it as a realistic possibility. I’m also sure that a lot of them don’t care. This is not a head-to-head race. Google+ is growing at a rapid rate, as is the use of “+1″ buttons. Google executives are just fine with collecting more user data, making search results more socially relevant, serving up more relevant advertising, and swimming in ad dollars. That’s way more important than getting into a numbers contest with Facebook. I’m just surprised that my gaming friends don’t get that.
I’d love to hear what you think of the Google+ vs. Facebook “war”. How do you feel about the socialization of search? Do you want the search algorithm to do all the work? Or do you like having your friends influence your search results?[Also, don’t forget to