A lot has been made of James Whittaker’s comments regarding his tenure with Google and how there appeared to be a fundamental shift in Google’s approach to social content and sharing.
In short (in my Rick Pitino voice..): It stinks. And it sucks. And I don’t like it.
And you can bet your ass that Facebook’s users aren’t walking through that door.
Now, despite having created a Google+ page for my blog yesterday, I have never minced words with my thoughts on Google’s approach to business or with how “successful” they have been with Google+ as a social networking community.
Google+ simple isn’t an engaging atmosphere. It’s trying to be Facebook, but it can’t be. It’s trying to be “Googley” (their own word, not mine) but it’s just… not. It’s not fun. It’s not interactive. It’s not cohesive. Paying Google Apps for Domain customers can’t even get in with their premium accounts.
Ok… Back the issue at hand. Whittaker had some pointed words regarding the culture of the Google environment itself:
No one had to ask me twice to promote Google and no one was more surprised than me when I could no longer do so. In fact, my last three months working for Google was a whirlwind of desperation, trying in vain to get my passion back.
The Google I was passionate about was a technology company that empowered its employees to innovate. The Google I left was an advertising company with a single corporate-mandated focus.
In short, Google changed. That’s fine. Change is normal. Evolution is necessary. But there’s a difference between changing organically and forcing change for the sake of profit. Forced change isn’t cohesive. And that’s why the whole social experiment is a bad, bad thing.
He’s referring to what’s generally considered to be very minimal adoption of Google+ among the general public. ComScore recently reported that Google+ users spend only three minutes per month using the service, compared to more than 400 minutes per month that Facebook users spend there.
[Bold emphasis is mine]
Three minutes? That’s 179 more seconds than I’ve averaged per month.
Does anyone else find it ironic that a search engine that champions usability and a quality user experience in search can be capable of producing such an awful experience with a massively scaled social community?
I mean, wow… They even laced it with a direct impact on their core business of search. How much more integrated can it become?
Here’s my final thought:
Google has become a vehicle to user’s end destination on the web. Google’s ideal users don’t stay and hang out in a Google environment. They engage, review, click and leave. Therefore, creating an environment that disrupts their core business should be expected to fail. Miserably.
Note… I’ve been enjoying the #SEOLunch trend, but I’m not falling off the bandwagon tomorrow. I’ve simply got an out of office client engagement that’s much more important than a 20-minute rant and rave session. I hope the four of you reading this don’t miss me too terribly.