Google+, you are really starting to piss me off.
Yes, you’re “gaining momentum.” You’ve got “90 million members.” But there’s one problem. You’re “a sham.”
If I end up becoming active on Google+, it will only be because I am forced to go there. And I will be forced to go there only if you make it impossible for me not to, by hijacking all the other services I actually choose to come to you for, and by essentially strongarming me and another billion people into a service we didn’t ask for. It will be because you have skewed my search results and rerouted my Gmail account and messed with my YouTube algorithm. It will be because you have infected me with a disease and then sold me the antidote.
Facebook is most definitely not perfect, but it’s not broken. I’ve got four words for you, Google: 850. Million. Active. Users. I’ll tell you what 850 million active users mean: they mean that you are not solving a problem for your customers with Google+. You are solving a problem for your investors.
The reason you got a billion search users in the first place is because you’re really really good at what you do best, and the reason you’re failing so badly at social is because it’s so obviously not what you do best. Circles? Really? Doesn’t it occur to you that if that one issue were such a massive deal-breaker, Facebook wouldn’t have 850 million active users?
Eight months into Google+’s existence (honestly, even the punctuation makes me rage), and I have yet to encounter a situation in which I feel like I’m missing out by not being there. Seriously, Google+, why are you here?
This is how Facebook puts it in its S1: “Certain competitors, including Google, could use strong or dominant positions in one or more markets to gain competitive advantage against us in areas where we operate including: by integrating competing social networking platforms or features into products they control such as search engines, web browsers, or mobile device operating systems; by making acquisitions; or by making access to Facebook more difficult." They’ve summed it up, Google+. You won’t win because you’re better, or because you’re providing a service that is more necessary, or because you’ve considered the true motivations and desires of the user base that has trusted you with our searches, dreams and desires for so long. You’ll win because we’re sheep and you’re sheepdogs, because you’re corralling us into a pen that suits your needs more than it suits ours.
Google, remember how you became so awesome. It was by focusing on the user: by having a deep insight into the needs of people searching the Web and an empathetic understanding of the indicators of quality content online. Yes, you were at a special time in history, and, no, it’s not easy keeping up with the eternally and relentlessly changing landscape of the Internet. But that is what you need to stay ahead of your rivals: that insight, that empathy. That is how you will continue to retain not only our usage but also our loyalty.
But just remember that you don’t own us. You’re better off coming to that realization on your own than taking us for granted -- and finding out the hard way.