Google Plus is essential

21:03, Mar 19 2012

Google Plus isn't exactly doing well. Sure, 100 million users ain't no joke, but apparently people only spend about 3.3 minutes there a month. The place represents a ghost town for most people, unless they follow some heavy users, but there isn't anywhere enough normal person-to-person contact going on, it seems. This is okay though - because G+ is Facebook's only real competitor.

A few of you are going to tell me immediately that Facebook and Twitter compete, or Facebook and Instagram etc. I disagree. Barely anyone uses a Twitter but doesn't have Facebook. Twitter is awesome, and it's growing, but it's a completely different kind of social network. It is confusing for a lot of people, and its features are (intentionally, and quite rightly) very limited. People want to be able to chat/game/upload photos and so on all in one place. Not only does G+ have most of these features ready to go, it's also got the infrastructure behind it to back it up, unlike most startups.

Facebook is huge. So huge. And social networks only exist with the people there. People don't really have time for both Facebook and G+; plenty will have an account with both, but they won't truly use them. Like, me, for instance. I can easily maintain a Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr, but my G+ page is barren tundra.

I still think Google should keep trying with G+ though, for a few reasons. 1) Competition is key. Obviously - competition forces companies to innovate. Facebook probably isn't hugely worried about G+ at this point, but you can bet your ass they're keeping their eyes on it. 2) Markets shift. Facebook is an incredibly dominant platform. But so was Windows. Who knows what shifts the future might bring - Google can afford to keep G+ around as the constant alternative to Facebook. There isn't really demand for another fully fledged social network currently - but there might be soon. What if all of Facebook went down for a week due to a crazy bad server outage or something? Unlikely, but still, G+ would definitely come into its own.

Are any of you heavy users of G+ but not of Facebook? Do you use it as a place to follow awesome people, like Twitter, or a place to talk to your real-life friends, like Facebook? I don't really know anyone who does; my feed is mostly just Robert Scoble, so I'd be interested in what you think.

Email Henry or follow him on Twitter.

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