Since Google announced their Google+ project as another social network yesterday – with the strongest bit being the ability to guard what content is seen by whom – there have been more pundits counting the ways it will kill Facebook or how it won’t. It’s almost like the debate on who will win a game in sports. The biggest difference is that in sports, there has to be a winner – in this case there doesn’t and probably shouldn’t.
As a society, there is such a movement in coverage about not only being the best, but destroying all competitors. Without the realization that being the one-and-only is abnormal and unhealthy, we are destined to be disappointed.
People seem to just now be starting to come to understand that media doesn’t have to be consumed just one way by each person. With TV, Theater/Film, DVD. Blu-ray, VOD, Digital Download, Streamed Online – and who knows what else may come – trying to force people to consume in one way is a death knell. We all know that individual’s consumption of media can be different depending on time of day and type of content. It is those who can truly appreciate that and adapt who will survive.
In some ways, people focus on the social network iterations that came before Facebook or the different ways of accessing the internet and fixate on the fact that each earlier iteration was effectively minimized or done away with. What is happening, though, is that more and more people worldwide are gaining access to all types of content, interactions and communications digitally and they are recognizing how they can interact with things differently on different gadgets. Additionally, those people are more comfortable with the fact that they can do it their own way – no peer pressure, no societal norms, just choices.
While many pundits are presenting a winner-take-all mentality, it is self-serving and doesn’t really represent the future. One only needs to look in a grocery store to realize there is not just one. You have your choice of dozens of creamy peanut butter. Soda choices are becoming further complicated by minutiae (cherry flavored, vanilla-cherry flavored, caffeinated, non-caffeinated, sweetened with splenda, sweetened naturally – huh?). Yes, there are some products that are stronger than others, but it is competition that built the world as we know it and without it, the loss of any edge or relevance will be the least of our worries.
I hope Google+ picks up and is popular. I hope people use it for the reaons they feel comfortable. I also believe that Facebook will continue to thrive and there will be other social networks that arise that fit the needs of those who use it. Will anyone other than Facebook rule the roost? only time will tell. But to cut opportunities for any entity based solely on what challenges exist in the market will only prove to further diminish the economy.
Let’s stop rushing to declare winners and losers or look for killers and instead push for the best products possible reaching the people the way they want it.