Remember the mainframe versus mini-computer arguments — how Wang technology was superior to anything IBM could offer — the mini versus PC battle — the well known Browser Wars — and of course many other tech debates along the way?
The tech industry needs these sorts of debates even if a lot of the opinions stated prove to be completely wrong and become annoying as these debates provide valuable feedback and may shape what will come tomorrow.
Of course this debate would not be raging as it is if the new kid on the block wasn’t Google. However, because it is Google, the pace of change and the impact they can have on our lives can be significant.
Therefore, quite rightly, Facebook has to take notice and has already responded with a raft of changes.
It’s not just Facebook who have been galvanized by the launch of Google+. Twitter and Linkedin have made some important recent changes as well. We the users are the winners.
This debate is really no different to what happened during all of the above debates in tech history.
As with those debates, what we are seeing is Episode One (1) of a battle which will more than likely take 2+ years before a clear winner will emerge. The best outcome for users such as you and me is that there is no clear / outright winner, that both services prosper and fulfill the needs of people in different ways.
What makes this one different is that views / opinions are being aired publicly through the social networks themselves, on blogs etc. Yes, it does become an overload – and tiresome – in many respects but at least people whose voice may never have been heard before are now able to express what they think and even make a prediction on a similar basis to the “experts”.
I’ve already made one prediction about this area – i.e. The Next Big Thing Won’t Be Social Media – and I’ll leave my predictions at that.
Nonetheless, I will add the following to the debate:
- Right now, Facebook is king and will stay that way for some time simply because it has 750+ million members … and a large proportion of those users are not going to move as social media is NOT the most important thing in most people’s lives.
- Google+ is a superior platform from a user’s perspective and may progressively get better as Google add more of their services into the mix. Search and You Tube are already there and there’s a lot more to come. However, the average person really doesn’t care too much about technology – they just want a simple solution to their needs. Both groups need to remember this.
- Current market status and superior technology may not determine who the eventual winner will be. Simply take a look at the demise of AOL who once dominated the Internet world or Apple who consistently produced better PC’s for many years yet only recently managed to regain solid market share in that category.
- Every change in the direction of technology has had an impact on consumer behavior in some way. This will also apply with what’s ahead. For example, Apple have already stated they have some exciting developments coming in the next 12 months whilst Microsoft’s much vaunted Windows 8 is not far from release.Then there’s Amazon who plan to release a $250 tablet in the coming months … and much more. Who knows – some of these technology changes may see a huge change to – or shift away from – social networks as we know them today.
- Mobile technologies will play a big role – in fact they already are as many users interact with social networks via their handsets. Google has the upper hand here with its Android platform. But then again, things can change here too.
- The mad scamble by the giants to ensure or gain mind and market share will leave many consumers with negative feelings about them – there are already many people using the word “greed” in their opinions. This gives other players the ability to establish smaller yet highly loyal, active and independent communities where the sense of trust and belonging is greater. No one group will ever own the social media space 100%!
- Competition is great – and so it is important that Google+ continues getting traction so consumers have choice and an alternative to Facebook. If they fail, then we as consumers will lose as I cannot think of anyone else who has the capacity to take on a service like Facebook which can progressively grow to more than 1 billion users. This would mean that the current surge in new features will slow down and maybe even disappear which, for the many people who like myself welcome change, would not be positive.
Whichever way you look at it, what we are seeing right now as Google releases new features and Facebook seemingly copies their every move in order to negate any competitive advantage plus release new features of their own is fantastic and, hopefully, just the start of what I suspect we will see over the next 1-2 years.
I hope this current battle for mindshare and marketshare – and the associated debate – continues because whatever these two powerhouses deliver will simply give users such as you and me more long term options! Concurrently, it’s also important that Linkedin and Twitter continue enhancing their services as well to meet the varied needs of individuals and companies.
What is your opinion on this social media war?