Why Google won't give Twitter or Facebook a buzz cut tomorrow

Matt Mullenweg getting a buzz cut

OK, I’ve given you the reasons why Google will be successful this time, but why won’t what they announce tomorrow give Twitter or Facebook a buzz cut? Funny aside, I found this photo of Matt Mullenweg (the entrepreneur behind WordPress) getting a buzz cut by using Google’s Social Circles search.

Some things that will keep Google from giving either Twitter or Facebook a buzz cut tomorrow (yes, I’ve been leaked some info about what’s coming tomorrow, so you gotta read in between the lines here):

1. Facebook has a defensible position in identity. Visit Huffington Post, or tons of other sites, and you’ll see the hooks that Facebook has that Google is NOT going to be able to rip out tomorrow, even if they have a really great offering.
2. Google isn’t trusted socially. Google is so large and has so much of our data that lots of us really don’t want Google to beat up on Facebook or Twitter.
3. Google doesn’t have Mark Zuckerberg. Mark gets how to hook people in through social tricks that very few people understand. FriendFeed, for instance, didn’t get it. Neither does Twitter. Most people think of Mark as an awesome businessperson or a tech genius (his major at Harvard was computer science), but most people don’t know his minor was Psychology. He studies how people work and how they get addicted to things at a level that Google’s founders struggle to understand. Google’s founders are also not nearly as comfortable around other people as Mark is. Everytime I meet Larry Page or Sergey Brin it’s tough to get them to talk socially. Mark, on the other hand, hugs people and is easier to just hang around and be personable with. That difference translates into the software that Facebook makes and how it hooks people in. Look at the tags on photos in Facebook, for instance. They hook people in in a way that no other service has yet.
4. Google has big company disease that Twitter never had. Watch Google tomorrow to integrate tons of services together in a way that looks like FriendFeed or Facebook. Of course YouTube videos, Google Maps, Picasa, and other things will be linked together in an aggregated feed. Now compare to Twitter. Twitter doesn’t have these “strategy taxes.” For all its sins (and Twitter has many sins) it has stayed pure and hasn’t strayed from 140-characters of text only.
5. Google doesn’t have developers that Facebook has. Facebook has a whole industry of folks who’ve made tons of applications for its users. Many of these are lame, yes, but others integrate Facebook with outside services and, better yet, hook you in to play games or do other things. Think about how Zynga got so big by selling virtual tractors inside a game on Facebook. That won’t exist on Google’s platform. At least not tomorrow. Tomorrow’s announcement is another platform move, look for the developer-centric stuff to come at its I/O Conference in April.
6. Google isn’t willing to piss its users off to get to the next level. Zuckerberg is willing to piss off Facebook’s users by changing the platform. He is in the midst of changing his platform once again from something that was only for private friends and family to something that’s more public so that Facebook can effectively compete in search (or, at least, be like Twitter and sell its feeds to Google or Microsoft). Google just isn’t willing to do that over and over.

Anyway, what will the Google service do? It’ll put a final nail into FriendFeed. Not that it needed it, that service is on its way down anyway, because its team has been focusing almost wholly on the larger Facebook service, but it will take the real time aggregated feed I liked there and bring it to Google in a nicer way.

What else will the Google service do? Build expectations around real time search. Mike Arrington was right when he said he needs much better filtering last night.

So, look for a neat system to come out that will be useful for many of us, but don’t look for it to take much buzz away from Twitter or Facebook.


  1. So does this mean that Wave is going to open to the general public tomorrow? I sure hope so. I love wave, but when only about five of your friends use it, it's not living up to it's full potential.

  2. What will it be is interesting following what I just saw as an answer by Robert. If it isn't Wave, then it links to another service option… if they took the 'FriendFeed' killing perspective, it should have that as a target. So what will be around aggregated real-time search based on usage and favoritism mechanisms?

  3. Zynga is proof of what exactly?

    Google took search and expanded it succesfully into hosting blogs (blogger.com), email (gmail, google/apps) & news. And that's stuff they did all on their own or acquired. Ultimately there is no comparing google to facebook. Facebook is the number 2 website so it is a nice narrative but there just is no real comparison between the two (a legitimate profitable business vs some shady operation funded by the Russian mafia and various Internet Marketers/Spammers).

    Take a look at the alexa rankings for traffic, yes Facebook is number 2 but you'll see a bunch of other G properties on that list.

    In search and the Internet at large I don't believe G has legitimate competition yet.

    Plus Facebook's technology is just lame compared to Googles. I've read their engineers blogs and they have done some nice things with memcached but their site is only in 2 data centers and it does seem to be strung together by ugly hacks. Nothing like the sophistication that Google has.


  4. #Google isn’t trusted socially. Well yes and no? I think people who trust Google enough to create company accounts containing sensitive data, or at least to use their webmail service will not be afraid to go to the next level.

    Then again, a question is: will users go to the next level just because they are using Gmail ? Yahoo has been trying loosely to trigger this kind of transition for a while, and I don't think it's that successful.

    #Google has big company disease that Twitter never had… What if that give us a social networking platform a la chrome? I think they learned their lesson from Wave: Don't Bloat.

    #Google isn’t willing to piss its users off to get to the next level. I think they don't have to. Users get concerned and pissed by themselves when a problem arises. Plus, they do seem to love trial and error.

    Mmmh…wait and see?

  5. I got the new Facebook home page layout this morning. I really like it! It's easy to navigate and visually appealing. @scobleizer is right – Google won't take much buzz away from Facebook.

    But …

    1. Facebook has a *huge* problem to deal with – a guy named Pete Warden


    2. Twitter also has a *huge* problem – Facebook is a powerful marketing platform and Twitter isn't. (Is Twitter the Next Second Life? http://meb.tw/cIYXOB)

  6. Not sure that comparing the sociability or likeableness of founders or principals is the greatest way to assess the competitive landscape for social or any other type of consumer tech innovation.

    I do believe there is still a fundamental disconnect between the value consumers get and give within their 'always on' days on the grid and the value brands and platforms think they are providing (and are building and announcing and buzzing and … well you know).

    This new value equation is yet to be calculated. I think – rather than domain or platform specific, e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Google – it is going to be human cycle specific, e.g. music, gaming, arts, sports, crafts, literature.

    This new “mashup of customer value” is something which will be very difficult for brands, companies & service providers to grok within traditional competitive frame. I tried to peal back one of these onions – mobile consumer value – in a recent bleat
    here… http://www.mobilemarketer.com/cms/opinion/colum

    It aint the answer, but sets up a thinking frame for some of the questions.

  7. Maybe my Google account will be my only Google account instead of having a Google account + my GAFYD account (same email)

    Well that's what I hope for :)

    (you know being able to send emails from feedly (via gmail(gafyd))

  8. It will be interesting on how things work out in the long term, short term means nothing. Change is apparent on all platforms. Enjoyed reading your post!

  9. The Social Feature in Google that we need is following:

    - Type in any topic you want and start chatting, debating, finding links, news, updates about it.

    - Follow the latest topics of interest and activities of your friends.

    - Find other people with the same interests as you.

    - Integrate all that nicely in the interface of Gmail and Google Reader

    - Based on Google Wave instant character-by-character updates and wave-subscriptions with new better interfaces.

    - Open not proprietary.

    - Use relevancy algorithms to automatically filter up interesting content, by people posting good stuff get rated up and are likely to help filter up the best content as soon as it is posted. Thus sorting through posts, updates is not only chronological, it should be ranked by awesomeness factor of the people involved, not based on follower count.

  10. Apparently, according to SAI, the 'big news' is status updates direct from within gmail. This, does not a FB or Twitter killer make.

  11. Ed – (1) that article about Pete Warden is very disconcerting and (2) I wonder how many individuals and SMB's have benefited from Twitter?

  12. Many local businesses have successfully used Twitter as a marketing tool, and location-based services like Foursquare have great potential. But the article was about large brands, like Pepsi. Twitter doesn't have the richness of user experience or the gut-grabbing power of pictures and video – it's text and links. It's too intellectual.

  13. Just saw the video and the blogposts about Buzz – rather underwhelming to say at least. You were spot on with this blogpost.

    I'll stick to my Tweetdeck, Facebook and Reader combo.

  14. Google has much more immediate utility and wider application.

    I am still not on Facebook myself, and don’t ever plan to join (same with my wife, we are in our mid 20s).

    People mentioning Google’s hoarding of data are idiotic if they are comparing it to Facebook. I mean, for goodness sake, you are purposely sharing a lot more specific and personal information on Facebook, and it is explicitly identified to you!

    And Zuckerburg being a plus? That cracks me up. The reason Google has been so successful is precisely due to its algorithmic magic. Google is a technology company. Google is an information engineering company. Facebook may be able to get there, but they have a long way to go at the moment. Who cares if the CEO likes bromance.

    People like their Facebook, but social-based applications are a double edged sword. The fad could end real fast. Especially as people realize it is unnecessary.

    Think 10 years from now. Will there be any need to even have a fixed repository/directory such as Facebook? Social networks don’t require a one-stop shop website. And once people realize they don’t need Facebook to be connected to each other in the way they desire, the party is over. It will just be an extra bother. The question is whether Facebook can keep up with the changing web and keep it the path of least resistance for sharing.

    Now, for the web itself, I would argue a search engine is absolutely essential. It is hard to imagine how that will ever not be the case. Hence, the true strength of Google.

  15. You have a strong point when you say Google isn't trusted socially. It seems like more and more people are becoming aware of the extent Google has profiled their lives.

  16. Perhaps Mark gets people, but then again Facebook sucked for a long long time. It wasn't really until the news revamp that it started to not suck.

    And that was how many years into its operations?

    Things can change.

  17. This anti-Google article is rather inelegant. The comment implying Mark is able to create a superior service because he hugs people was possibly the worst attempt at a low-blow since the advent of the intertubes. Also, the comment regarding developers for Facebook overshadowing those of Google, I feel, is poorly backed.

  18. “Mark gets how to hook people in through social tricks.”

    He has some other tricks as well.But let's not go there.
    Let's have a look at what those social tricks actually are. I will need some help.

    - People like to talk : email, IM, chat, wallposts, tweets … ?

    - They like to show off : with photos, videos, wall posts, services that highlight their experiences / purchases, … ?

    - They like to share : pics, videos, wall posts, tweets, ..

    - They want to feel like they belong to something: groups, fan pages, …

    - They want to give meaning to life. They look for love and new experiences.

    - They want to meet new people

    - They don't want to feel left out. They want to be tuned in.
    So again: groups, wall posts, news, …

    - They are eager to learn. Search, content, …

    - They are jealous & want to know what their friends just did or bought, …

    - They want to feel loved. N° of friends , … ?

    - They want to win: leaderboards

    - …

  19. Ha, it’s funny to read this post knowing all about Buzz. It’s like reading from the future… But I agree with a few points you make. 1. Google is too large, too diversified to handle this (at least, well). 2. They for sure won’t piss anyone off. Google has a good thing going and if they upset people with Buzz, they will start loosing users across the board. Thanks for the post, good stuff!

  20. Google isn’t willing to piss its users off to get to the next level?
    Welp, weither they meant to or not, there seem to be a heck of a lot of people pissed off about Buzz. I guess it's too early to tell how this will affect their image.

  21. They might not be able to outrun them but an alternative is always required. Otherwise Myspace would have been the zenith of social media.

  22. Tbh i think google buzz is a cruddy name, they should of thought something a lot more inventive and fresh, o well with google being google im sure they'll eventually come out on top……in a few years