Why Google+ Just Might Beat Facebook

Google+ logoIt has been a couple weeks since Google launched their social networking service, Google+,  and  there is a wide variety of opinion on whether or not Google will beat Facebook at their own game. After using the new service for a few days, I think Google has a very good chance of giving Facebook a strong #2 competitor (think Apple & Android in smartphones) if not overtake them much in the same way Facebook overtook MySpace. But the main factor is not how innovative parts of Google+ are but their key differentiator:

Google has the scale, talent, and vision to lead the social-mobile web.

Much like Apple has led the so-called, “post-PC era,” Google has the opportunity to shape the social and increasingly mobile web with an end-to-end experience. They already have 200 million Gmail users who will find it easy to sign up for Google+ once one of their contacts puts them in a Circle. If only a third of those users migrate, the user base of Google+ will be larger than MySpace. It is also not out of the question for Google to reach Twitter’s 200 million user mark within the first year since their combined value proposition will bring some of the Facebook user base over.

But even 200 million active users is a long way from Facebooks’ 750 million so I expect Google to settle into the #2 spot for the foreseeable future. But that could change in the long-run with some more mobile integration directly into the Android core, brand pages mashed up with AdWords, and tighter integration of Hangouts and Google Docs. All of which I expect to see added before 2012.

I’m sure some readers will comment about Google’s checkered past in social networking, first with Orkut and more recently with the ill-fated Google Buzz. But to their credit, Google has rethought the social network from scratch with Google+ and have learned a great deal from their past failures in social networking. This is one of the things about the Google culture that is going in their favor here; the ability to start over and not build on past missteps.

Ultimately what Google is doing with Google+ is moving the social graph away from the closed Facebook platform and onto the mobile-social web where they can better organize and monetize their products and services. They have already created a compelling alternative to Facebook and have yet to bolt on their core advertising services. Once they do this, and several other smart things they are probably working on now, I think they just might give Facebook a run for their money.

‘The Social Network’ is the best movie about the web ever

The Social Network posterMuch can be said about David Fincher’s film, “The Social Network”, which opened Friday. The screenplay by Aaron Sorkin is brilliant and is a strong contender for a best adapted screenplay Oscar. The acting is very good, especially  Jesse Eisenberg’s portrayal of Mark Zuckerberg and, surprisingly, Justin Timberlake’s turn as Sean Parker. But what was most surprising to me was how good a 2 hour Hollywood film about the internet could be. 

The film tells the story of the birth of Facebook from it’s early beginnings in Mark Zuckerberg’s Harvard dorm room to his depositions for lawsuits in late 2007. Since it’s based on the book, “The Accidental Billionaires”, the narrative takes a somewhat negative view to Zuckerberg, but to Sorkin’s credit, much of his humanity is preserved. It’s clear that Zuckerberg is a brilliant hacker but also a very complicated individual and the writing, acting and direction wisely leaves much of the interpretation open to the viewer.

But what makes this film the best movie about the internet yet produced is not that it really gets into what makes Facebook or Web 2.0 such a game changer. In fact, it could be a story about any smart entrepreneur who took advantage of the opportunities in front of them. But when the film does show a glimpse of the computer screen the details seem mostly correct, which is usually where other films go off the rails with ridiculous rendered screens that have very little to do with computers or the internet. It’s those little details that keeps those of us who know this story satisfied.

So is “The Social Network” a great movie? No, but it is a very good one and worthy of your time to see it. It’s the second best film I’ve seen this year behind “Inception” (which I’m still trying to figure out) and is a tad better than Martin Scorsese’s fine “Shutter Island”.

Disclosure: I was given 2 free tickets to a pre-release showing of this movie as part of a group from SMBMSP.

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Our New President Really Gets Social Media

I just checked my Facebook profile and received a message from Barack Obama. He linked a new video that took me back to his site to view what is posted on YouTube and below here. What is interesting is how easily his team has made it to share with friends via email.

Clearly our next President really “gets” social media. The next four years will be very interesting from a lot of perspectives.

Bonus link: Edelman’s white paper about the Obama campaign and social media.

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