The exception to this rule is social internet companies. Social companies are built in a day and can die in a day - we've seen it happen again and again, and Facebook's scale is no protection.
To beat Verizon, you need a network. To beat Google, you need search technology, data, and great engineers. To beat a car company, you need some factories.
But to beat Zuckerburg, all you need it timing and a good strategy, and equivalent engineers. And in this case, Google seems credible on all fronts.
This is the first serious threat to Facebook's existence.
I'll make a friendly $100 wager with you that Google will not have more active users on Google+ than Facebook has -- as reported by each company, a reputable publication, or measured by a public analytics firm -- 5 years from now.
Google's key to driving adoption is going to be integration of all of their services into Google+, which means that they have very natural and robust funnels for acquiring a userbase, so long as their tools are integrated properly.
Given the money that Google is pouring into this, and the incentive structure for engineers and teams at Google, i have no doubt that they will come up with clever ways to make their tools more social.
What does it mean to have social products? To tap into a users social network? That is what Facebook offers to any company that wants, and that is why 2/3rds of websites now have a Like and Facebook Connect button on them, it is very easy for any service to attempt the social route by tapping into the thing that only Facebook so far has, the social network.
Google cant engineer a social network using code, a social network requires specific steps to be carried out in perfect order, it cant be done overnight, you need to build smaller networks and connect them to larger networks as time progresses. It takes a long time, years even.
Reddit is social, hackernews is social. None of them have what Facebook has, real world information about living people and their relationships. Here on HN I could have 5 or 6 accounts and no-one would notice, HN, reddit and any other "social" product does not have relationships between humans. Google mail is close to a social network, except the fact that email is mostly used for business and so is most suited for something like LinkedIn, I personally have more companies mailing me than my friends. If I tomorrow made a new google mail account and began using it instead of my old one, would google be able to tell? Facebook for sure would.
New? What rock have you been hiding under?
Facebook's goal is to supposedly map out all real world social connections, and i would first say that such a goal is a pipe dream, and second that if you judge facebook by that criteria, that almost all services will fail to meet it.
I'm betting that Google+ will get more than just the early adopters.
That said, building a business is not just about a simple CRUD application. There is a LOT more that goes into Facebook and its adaption.
There is even more that went into its timing and filling a void that existed in the market. Zuch didn't have many engineers at first, he just found a void and filled it.
I think that there is an opportunity with Circles for G+ to fill a new void, but will it be enough? All the research in the world can't tell you. Only time will tell.
In fact, I'd say it's a lot easier to build another Tesla -- who moved into a shuttered NUMI factory -- than another Facebook. It's a lot easier and cheaper to hire machinists, fabricators, welders, millwrights and assembly workers than it is to hire developers. And there's no network effects to selling your product.
Facebook began earning the mindshare of people outside college campuses 7 years ago. Hardly a day. And you say "sical internet companies" as if Facebook can be compared to other social networks. Truth is, facebook has market penetration (in mindshare and daily use) unmatched in internet history outside of Google (and Amazon I suppose).
I think that G+ will be successful. But i think it'll be successful alongside Facebook, and that Facebook will be a strong, profitable, influential company for a long time to come. And that Facebook isn't nearly as easily broken as you claim: In fact, I think there's only one company capable of really threatening it, and that is of course the company that is doing just that with G+.
In technical fields, like medicine, or even computer science research, I'd pay close attention to such commenters.
But a product like Google+ was made for the masses. Just like Google.com was. Just like Facebook was.
So until my non-tech friends start praising Google+ as if it's a must-see movie, or a song I have to hear, or a restaurant I have to try, I'm discounting these views.
I'm not saying Google+ won't be successful. I'm just saying that the people who are saying it's going to be The Next Big Thing aren't the people who make The Next Big Thing, The Next Big Thing.
But the thing about "normal" people is that they just don't get that excited about joining any new site in general. They usually join them through peer pressure and after they start hearing about it on TV, or in other such common places.
So yeah give it time to grow naturally, the same way Facebook or Twitter grew. Don't expect all your non-techie friends to be on Google+ a month after it launched. Some will join, others won't (for now).
Perhaps more importantly, techies can have fun by themselves. They would play with Circles, follow tech celebs, tweak around with Sparks, and love discussing random topics with strangers. Now suppose early adopters consist of Andies and Bellas, they would just sit and wait until somebody does something.
That said, at the end of the day, G+ will finally have to figure out how to get Andy and Bella in.
I am not inside of Google, and multiple people in my social network who are also not in Google have been using Google+ in the last few days. The product has been very usable.
"Already invited? We've temporarily exceeded our capacity. Please try again soon."
But try again. You never know when you'll get in. (A birdy suggested that your odds are pretty good now...)
But I think that only confirms my point. Google should put it in the hands of the masses, and not industry insiders (though perhaps a closed network of the masses, such as a core group of Oprah's followers).
It needs to be careful not to make Google+ an engineering project for employees, and instead a great consumer product.
For what it's worth, I've been using it for the last couple of days, and I don't particularly like it.
I wrote a few reasons why I don't here (see the update part at the end): http://www.chipsandguac.com/thoughts/googlesocial.html
Also a minor quibble- did any one else notice that if you make more than a few circles, you get multiple scrollbars and thing becomes less pretty and usable.
The generally accepted version of Google's history with social products is summed up well in this recent AdWeek article:
Has Google Learned From Social Failure? Why Google+ might succeed where Buzz failed
More generally I meant that both tech people and Google suffer from the same blindness.
1) Picasa, just received a shot in the arm. Integrating it with Google+, would definitely see a surge in its adoption. Also, since people are going to use it anyways, they might seriously consider backing up all their images to Picasa. Fits right in with the Google's cloud philosophy.
2) Huddle - This is Google Talk for mobile done the right way. Given that iOS app is on the way and hopefully a Blackberry version, this can take on the new iOS messages and I dare say, the blackberry messenger.
3) Google has got the integration of notifications right, always there and yet very subtle. The top bar redesign makes sense now. With Buzz, there was a feeling of the service forced down on, in your gmail account. But, with Google+, the service notification are everywhere. web, images, books, news, g+ and yet the users do not seem to mind. Integrated the right way.
4) It has the potential to be The network. Facebook, might be a serious social network, but no is really going to use the FB email as the primary email address or as the one for formal usage. Google+ covers that. It can be your formal network; the one for friends; your primary photo service and more.
5) It would be killing, if they would Hangout a.k.a. group video chat would make its way onto the mobile apps.
This might seem positively biased, well, I do love Google.
And I agree with him. So far I love Google's unifying strategy, not only through deeper integration but through having similar, more streamlined design as well. And I feel this is just the beginning. I think we'll see a lot more of it this year.
I just did that, then found that "public" didn't really mean public; the post was still only visible to people with Google+ accounts. Oh well. I then copied over to my actual blog. But I would like to have a true public option even if it only meant read-only of such posts.
But just now I looked at the post and noticed a dropdown-arrow next to it which revealed an option to get a link. That link is indeed publicly visible. Also insanely long and ugly, but whatever, it works.
I feel that inevitably, I will somehow end up using Google+, despite my lack of need (or want) for it at the moment, though.
It's much like how Facebook grew by restricting its service only to the top schools. This gained more hype for them as people saw that the 'elite' were using facebook and loving it.
Now we have personal invites to those who have a strong voice in the tech industry generating lots of good publicity for them. I'm not saying your a Silicon Valley elite if you have google+ account. But I think that the decision to keep google+ a private was more marketing, then a technical decision.
The only reason that Google+ was announced was that this process couldn't have been done in secret. I'm sure if there was a way to have got everyone in at the same time, they'd have done it.
Either way, having a closed invitation has genuinely made me more interested in the product.
What about non-Googlers? I feel like there would have to be some sort of algorithm that did it for you, what with how many people use Googles' services.
Have not figured out how to send messages to my friends, or do I have to share something only with them?
The "Limited"/Public link to view who you shared something with is kind of hidden, would be nice to see which circles a share is visible without clicking something.
There is actually not very much I can do right now. I click on cirlces, yeah it is a nice interface. A lot of my friends dont seem to understand how to share content with me even after they added me to a circle. Not much happens at all.
Yeah, I think that's how it works. There's also a chat box on the left, which could be used for similar purposes.
So I hope Google will make the search bar work for content shared within Google+ as well, not just for people. Doing this would get people to spend even more time on Google+, reading other people's opinions or discovering their shares, and perhaps even meeting them through it.
I want to read more content from other people on Google+ and I can't right now because I don't really have a good way of finding them. I hope Google was already thinking of activating this, but they didn't because at launch there wouldn't have been much content anyway.
And before anyone starts saying I should use Sparks, it doesn't work the way I'm suggesting. Sparks is more like a Google search. What I'm asking for is searching within Google+ for shares and people, just like on Twitter.
From one year after the date of the parent comment Eliezer expects that Google+ will not appear on Hacker News (except as a mistake, an obituary, an "It failed, I told you so!", etc). The probability Eliezer assigned to his prediction being correct: 55%.
I asked for the number with the intent of betting against him. At that figure I am not quite comfortable staking money. That is, I am not sufficiently confident that google+ has a significantly more than 45% chance of taking off. (Because I think that 45% chance of still being significant in a year is a good place to be, given the potential payoffs!)
Not to mention that I heard all sorts of revolutionary praise for Wave when it was released.
Every single human attending Harvard in 2005 heard of thefacebook, and almost all of them were active users. This pattern continued as it expanded to other colleges, and eventually high schools. Facebook had a steady, population-representative mix of non-technical users from birth; it was never techies'-little-secret in the way that Twitter, Foursquare, and Quora were.
Warning: I work at Facebook now, but did not back then. This is just my second-hand understanding.