Thursday, October 6, 2011

Facebook or Google+

Abigail Menezes.


It doesn’t seem appropriate to start talking about Google+ as if it just started, even though it was opened up for everyone just a couple of weeks ago. And after they recently announced they had reached 20+ million users, it doesn’t seem like it could have escaped anyone that Google+ is the now a hyped player in town, in a good way of course. But then there is this little thing about Facebook and how some people say Google+ will completely destroy Facebook from its throne. Is it true?

Well, we’ll just have to wait and watch to make up our minds. Facebook certainly has an advantage, and that is in its sheer number of users, and also in the way that they always innovate. However, lately they have been slacking on the bugs a bit, at least I think so personally. I have been frustrated many times about the site being wonky and slow, not to mention features that worked perfectly before yet at the moment don’t even show up. So who will be the winner in this fight? Is there space enough for these giants to share the social networking throne? I guess we’ll just have to wait and see because the battle is on.

With more than 700 million active users worldwide, Facebook proves to be hard to surpass. But other critics point out that Google's large user base across its different products and its proprietary technology will make Google+ an alarming opponent.

Google reached a billion unique visitors in May, but Google+ alone has about five million users as of today, according to Paul Allen, the founder of, who estimated Google+ members using US census data and the number of Google+ members with certain last names. Allen has also noted that Google+ is "growing like crazy."

The Circles innovation is the key feature that distinguishes Google+ from Facebook. It allows the user to fine tune which group of friends to get what information update. Users can share something with one circle, while keeping it hidden from others. You can put anyone in a Circle, and they can choose to reciprocate or not. Huddle allows users in specific circles to group message each other. The Location feature gives users the option to include their current location to each post. Sparks lets users notify Google+ of their interests, and in return, Sparks will send the user information on the topic in the form of movies, articles, etc., on a regular basis. Google Alerts has the same function, but Sparks allows users to share information with their friends more easily.

Google+ however, has a disadvantage to its mobile users. The applications that are available on Google+ aren’t free for those who login to Google+ from their mobile phone, one has to buy each and every application. Whereas on Facebook, all the applications that it has are absolutely free. Hence, Google+ might be at a disadvantage because it might lose out on its mobile users.

On the other hand, what might turn out to be Google+'s real amazing application isn't a feature inside Google+. It is the new black bar that sits atop every Google property including the search page and Gmail accounts. But the real key is that on the right side, you have a box that turns bright red when you have a notification from Google+. If someone has commented or re-shared your post, or added you to a circle, the box lights up. When you click on it, a dropdown box appears and in case that someone has added you to a circle, you see their profile picture.

With a single click add them to one or more of your circles, hide them or outright block them. One more advantage, if someone comments on a post you have made or comments after you do on someone else's post, you can reply directly from the notification drop down window, without ever leaving the other Google page you are on.

Facebook's biggest advantage is its ubiquity. Asking people of a certain age if they have a Facebook account borders on the absurd. Of course they do. And many a friendship has been rekindled via the service. Facebook currently has about 700 million users, and this is its main asset. Facebook users have already created their own networks of friends on the site, and it is a pain for some to switch over to another social network site. Since early July, all Facebook members, and gamers in particular, are able to use Facebook Credits, a virtual currency. This is Facebook's another advantage that will boost its membership and loyalty. Facebook Credits is a virtual currency that enables fast and easy transactions across games on Facebook. With Facebook Credits, people enter their payment information once and can buy, earn and spend safely across lots of different games.

It is still not clear as to who will win the social media war, but one thing holds true, social media users are the ultimate beneficiaries as the two rivals continue to improve their products in order to win over customers.

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