Google, I hope you win. But its been all wrong moves lately.
Google+ – 170 millions users.
Facebook – 845 million users.
Gmail – 350 Million users.
Google Registered users – 1 Billion.
First off, a 170 million in Google’s terms means nothing at all. Google+ has tried everything possible it can so far, right from launching it seamlessly with its most popular product Gmail piggybacking on its user base and even updating it regularly with very good features including the recent UX overhaul. Google has about 1 billion unique page views a month on its core products and about 350 Million Gmail users. The reality is that, with all that on the face, attention grabbing integration with this user base on Gmail, Google+ has failed to get even half of its users to become active users on Google+. 170 on Google+ and 350 on Gmail – the difference is evident.
The first mistake.
Now, one might argue that they are different platforms and not all Gmail users can be migrated directly to Google+. Well, that is exactly the point and what Google has been wrongly focusing on. Google’s USP is its core product user base, and it hopes that it can attach or cross sell any product to those users whenever it wishes. Let’s say tomorrow there comes a new social networking site that pops up and amasses all of Facebook users (as unrealistic as it sounds). Google hopes that it can run over it by introducing a similar product to its Gmail users. This is essentially a wrong idea.
Gmail and other core products of Google are amazingly well done and sits right on top of the competition, if at all any. Most of the user base are first movers and we haven’t found anything valuable as Gmail to make the switch. We might just not because we are so used to it. It’s the same thing with Facebook. We haven’t seen anything more fascinating than Facebook. Even Google+ is technically better but it will never convince a Facebook user to make the switch one fine day. We might, eventually..in about all the time we see those notifications within Gmail. But in that time, Facebook would’ve made several big leaps forward reinforcing its position.
The second mistake.
I’m convinced that Google+ will never overtake Facebook. But you will hear claims from Google that its nearing the numbers, if not over taking it. This the second mistake.
Google’s way of counting is wrong. 170 millions users – they say. How active? How engaging? We do not know. 845 million Facebook users – one can almost be certain that all of them are on Facebook for networking purposes solely and are active users. Google+, possibly pulled the 170 from Gmail. I wouldn’t call it ghost users, because we have seen the new design overhaul create a lot of noise and hype. But definitely not lingering enough.
The Tom and Jerry Game
How would it be if Facebook focused on email, opened up Facebook Email to all its 845 million for free, and claimed that they had the largest email user base? It would be wrong, because nobody uses Facebook email actively or as they would like Gmail, we’ve seen it.
And they realize it. Which is why, even though they opened up Facebook email, they’re not focusing on it.
What Google needs to understand is that, they cannot cross sell anything and everything to their core users. They can and they will succeed to a level, but it’s the wrong direction. Instead, they should focus on building new innovative products, with their amazing team and help solve a problem or cater to a demand among users. Not try to play catch up with something someone else is doing right. At the end they might prove that they’re better builders but the thing with people is that they have this emotional attachment to things they saw first and loved first. They loved Gmail first, so they aren’t shifting to anything else unless they have a solid reason now, and the same with Facebook.
My guess is that Google knows it already, and they’re doing this whole catch up game out of pure pressure from its stake holders. Fair enough. But its been losing some of its lead idea generators and innovators lately, citing “innovation block”. Hhmm…I would think it’s a signal. A warning signal.