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Social Network Showdown: MySpace, Facebook, Google+

Published July 13, 2011 - 4 Comments

Somehow I completely missed the announcement that Justin Timberlake had purchased a majority stake in MySpace, the all but forgotten social network of yesteryear.  I guess that I must have been more interested in planning my Canada Day weekend, because I was shocked to find out that news very recently.  So shocked that I wasn’t sure if I even believed it at first.  Sure enough… Mr Sexy Back is determined to bring life back to MySpace.  And all for the incredibly low price of $35 million, which is a bargain considering the initial selling price was supposedly $100 million!  And even that was much lower than what it had originally been purchased for.  Yes… there was a time when MySpace attracted a lot of eyeballs, and in turn, that attracted a lot of advertising dollars.  It’s been quite a few years since MySpace has wielded any clout in the world of social networking, outside of musicians who continued to cling to it to help build an audience.  I’ll be curious to see whether Justin and gang can turn the sinking ship around, and bring any of the former glory back to MySpace.  Curious indeed.

As curious as I am about the MySpace purchase, the really interesting stuff is what’s happening with Facebook and Google.  Everyone’s known that Google was going to make another attempt to push into the social networking space.  Google Buzz was more of a bust than anything else, but if Google has proven anything, it’s that they do not take “no” for an answer.  So when Google was preparing to make their announcement, the world was ready.  For what, exactly?  We didn’t know.  But we knew that Google was rolling out something big.  That something is called Google+ (how original) and today I read that Google+ surpassed the 10 million user mark, which is incredible considering that it was launched only 2 weeks ago!

I’m a big fan of Gmail, and Google Calendar, so I already have a Google account.  I also regularly use Google Docs, and Google Analytics.  I may not have swallowed the Google Kool-aid, but I’m certainly sipping at it.  And seeing as I’m not a fan of Facebook in the least, I was itching to get my hands on a Google+ invite and test it out.  I had envisioned writing a long post about how great Google+ is, and how Facebook should be running scared.  If anyone can produce a real, sustained threat to Facebook, it’s Google.  After dabbling with it for a short time, I suddenly remembered why I don’t like Facebook.  To me, there’s no difference between the two in premise.  I am absolutely positive that for people who are more familiar with Facebook, they can point out a dozen major differences between the two social networks without even breaking a sweat.  There are plenty of blogs that outline the pros and cons of each, and if you are looking for a serious discussion of that topic… I suggest that you look elsewhere.  I just couldn’t get excited about Google+.  I thought that I would be.  I really did!  I wanted to be blown away… unfortunately, I grew bored with it and went on to something else.

As for Facebook, they’ve stepped up their own game by announcing a partnership with Skype to provide video calling to your Facebook friends from within the Facebook site.  This is a pretty smart move, and it’s surprising that it’s taken this long to come around.  By integrating Skype within Facebook it brings VoIP calling to a huge audience whose technical skills may not extend much past sharing pictures with friends, and planting a turnip garden in Farmville.  After all, who cares what Voice over IP is… or even what Skype is!  All they  know is that they can now see their niece holding up the latest addition to the family, and make cutsie gaga noises into the camera… all in real time!  The user experience is more important than the link that makes this all possible.  And all of this is accomplished without ever leaving the familiar Facebook environment.  Bonus!

I do wonder how much of that deal was already in the works prior to Microsoft making their play to purchase Skype.  It’s a strange world we live in.

I think that it will be interesting to see how these three fare in the boxing ring where I don’t see much growth opportunity for the market as a whole.  Are people willing to switch from one network to another if their friends don’t come with them?  Are people willing to add another one (or two) social networks to their existing mix?    Each of them have something to prove, and I think that anything’s possible at this point.

Should be fun!