Facebook has excellent information on users interests. As opposed to MySpace and Twitter, most of the data on Facebook is not crawlable. It's private data, which means that Google is completely locked out. Even if it was crawlable, the data is not as valuable since Google would have to try to interpret it, while Facebook knows what it really means.
Summary: Facebook is an existential threat to Google's two major lines of business AdSense and AdWords. This is going to be a huge drawn out battle. Sit back and enjoy the show.
If they integrate all Google products with Google+ tightly, it will cover entire web for most of the internet power users aka Geeks.
And no, it can't relay completely on our friend's interests (à la Facebook) cause they're their interests not ours.
We'll probably stick much and much more to our beloved communities (topics, not friends) and start every web-related activity from there.
That's something Google can't let Facebook win on.
I would strongly suggest to tech journos that they hold back on making predictions until normals start using it.
Obviously the point of a social network is the network effect, but there are some pretty basic capabilities missing from G+ that would limit its usefulness even if it had the critical mass of users already: no events and no photo tagging. And no poking ;-)
You can export all of your google+ et al data and import it elsewhere (including your social graph).
It would be a lot easier for Facebook to fix their holes with privacy(essentially copying Plus's Circles) than for Google to become more like Facebook.
We needed someone to put pressure on facebook to give more granular privacy control. To the extent that Plus pushes Facebook in that direction, I'm happy!
Plus' other features like Hangouts are nice but nothing really that I missed enough to drop Facebook. Privacy is one thing that I can see myself moving away from facebook for.
I find the G+ interface orders of magnitude more pleasant to use than FB. It's not perfect, but it handles all of the same use cases that I used FB for, and does so in a simpler more sensible way.
The stream is a lot more cluttered than Facebook. As an example, this is what I see next to a name in the stream:
Fname Lname - 4:17 PM - Mobile - Public
Compared to Facebook:
There are lots of such details that facebook has right--mostly because they have been around a lot longer. I am sure Google Plus will eventually get it right(facebook's very first design really sucked, too).
Another example: when someone posts a picture, it seems to appear pretty big versus Facebook. It's an issue for me because most often I am not interested in pictures in my feed so a smaller version--like facebook--is preferred. If it looks like something of interest, I'll click on it.
When I do click on a picture in my stream, I am taken to a page with black background with all comments appearing on right in white/gray. It shows the non-standard nature of the Google UI which I personally dislike.
Facebook's UI may be boring. But most things I use a lot are boring and non-shiney.
All this comes from someone who really, really hates facebook for purposely holding back privacy features. I have pretty much resorted to not posting anything that may be offensive to a 5 year old kid.
I like the bigger pictures, cause I never was able to really use the tiny pictures on FB. But yea, I think if you are focusing on designing something so that users can easily skip over stuff something has gone horribly wrong.
Circles are friend lists, a feature Facebook has had for three years. Facebook's friend lists actually do a few things that circles currently don't: for instance, you can post to the union of a set of friend lists with specific people excluded.
They're de-emphasized in the UI because, despite many iterations on it, and a prompt to this day to add new friends to a list, the overwhelming majority of users have never created or used one. The functionality has been there for years, so it is surprising to me that Google is pushing an essentially failed Facebook feature as their big differentiator.
Yup, I use this feature increasingly. I especially like the "Only Me" feature to share stuff I don't necessarily want to share with any of my friends but want to remember years down the line.
Yet Google tells other people that we know each other. They make no differentiation between a 2 way relationship and a one way.
This looks like spam heaven to me.
There seems to be a bogus meme propagating that Facebook doesn't have the functionality at all, though. You can do this stuff on Facebook if you're so inclined.
As for sharing data, and interop, I'd be curious to know if any Googlers are part of the Federated Social Web working group: http://www.w3.org/2005/Incubator/federatedsocialweb/
I follow their mailing list, and I can't remember seeing a lot of posts from people who identified as being with Google.. but that doesn't mean they're not there. Or maybe Google just have their own plan and are going to do an end-run around the W3C initiative(s)?
Btw, omg, I just checked and Google+ is already sorta-compatible with OStatus in the same way Buzz was, at least for my account... Atom, ActivityStreams, WebFinger and PubSubHubbub are already there. Salmon is missing but it's a complicated protocol (took weeks for me to implement it in Ruby), so it's understandable.
It means you can probably follow a Google+ user with StatusNET or Identi.ca! You can't mention or share data yet, but I hope it's coming...
For me, federation IS the future. Let's hope Facebook joins the party!
I'm hoping that g+ is a step along this way, so I broadly want to agree with the article.
In the MS antitrust case one of the important things that came out of it was that internal MS developers had access to the same set of APIs to Windows as 3rd party developers. That is, the CLR or Excel or Sharepoint, for example, don't have access to special APIs that no one else has access to.
Google should do the same. Anything that GMail, Search, Docs, have acess to, so should Facebook, Bing, and Twitter.
(Restricting APIs isn't necessarily just about lock-in. It's a lot easier to change an API when it affects a few teams in the same company than when it affects untold numbers of external developers. Keeping it internal for a while gives them a chance to validate, and maybe iterate on, its design. Hence some internal APIs of WP7.0 were exposed in 7.5, etc.)
Regarding the second point, I have no problem with Google saying these are "beta" APIs, subject to change. Their services carry this same label. As a developer I'd much rather see their full API stack, with some marked as beta, rather than a much neutered API.
With that said, I'd like to see the same for WP too, but with Google they have set a public position of doing what is right even if it is against their corporate interests -- I want them to uphold it -- not just when it is a PR win.