Facebook is amazing. I mean, I love facebook just like everyone else does and they do everything really well.
But technology moves fast, and every decade or two, the market leader gets replaced. The bigger the company, the stronger the foothold (ahem, microsoft) but in the end, the service that provides the most true value to the consumer will win.
One of the only platforms I use more than facebook is email. Facebook has tried to build their own email platform (rumors of “@fb.com” email addresses abound), but I can’t see how facebook could build a real email competitor within its already complex platform. They could cannabalize the “Hey let’s grab lunch!” emails and make them facebook messages, but for work / productivity purposes, just forget about it.
One of the steps that Google seems to be taking, and in fact, they’ve talked about it, is allowing a vast array of multimedia integration into email. This makes them similar to facebook, in that you can share links, post videos, etc… and get a little preview in your email client’s window, without having to go anywhere. Simple formulas yield success.
In a post earlier this year before the Google Wave announcement, I wrote about email being the foundation of consumer internet interaction.
The post focused on the potential email has to be the facilitator to all things social (if this is in fact where google is headed).
In fact, my gmail account is quickly becoming my de-facto personal, reputable identity online. I use it for everything…subscriptions, payments, private messages (email), personal information storage (files on google docs), sharing and reading links (google reader), IM messages (google chat), etcetera, etcetera…
The issue that I had with facebook in my earlier post, is the exact thing that has helped them grow so quickly. Sometimes, sharing is too much, there are too many people who are going to see something that I post. Most of my 650 some-odd friends, I don’t care about. I mean, 650 people? Seriously? I couldn’t name 100 of them if I tried let alone care about what they’re doing every day. I use the “hide newsfeed items from XXX” almost every session, now I have a workable newsfeed, but what about hiding the things that I post to the people I also don’t care about? Managing privacy lists to whom you share, can sometimes just be too bulky. The user workflow just doesn’t do it for me. Too many features, very little “foundation” other than the homepage stream.
I think that Facebook can win the identity game for social purposes, and google can win it for non-social (work?) purposes.