Google+ launched on June 28, 2011. It got rave reviews. Many said it would kill Facebook overnight. I, along with many others, went out to buy some popcorn. This was going to be an epic battle, because like I've said many times, competition is a good thing.
For the last three months, Facebook has transformed like never before. Do I think most of these changes would have happened if Google+ never arrived on the scene? Sure. I also strongly believe Facebook would have taken much longer to roll out new products, kill existing features, and would have taken a lot fewer risks.
Instead, Google pushed Facebook to act quicker and more viciously than ever before. Sometimes, there were direct responses to whatever Google did. Other times, they were already in the pipeline but needed an extra swift kick in order to go live.
Since Google+ arrived, Facebook launched significant improvements to Facebook Chat: video calling powered by Skype, group chat, and an option to see the friends you message most. The company rolled out a major revamp to its privacy settings, affecting what you see on your profile as well as when you share content on the social network. It launched Subscriptions, letting you subscribe to Facebook users who you aren't friends with and letting you offer your own public updates to Facebook users who aren't your friends.
Facebook also killed a bunch of its own features. It axed the App Directory without much fanfare. Facebook Deals went the way of the dodo bird. Even Facebook Places no longer exists, although plenty of new location features were added to the service.
Don't even get me started on the number of tweaks and updates Facebook has been testing recently. It's really quite difficult to keep up with all of them, which hasn't really been much of a problem before.
The war between Facebook and Google is going to get even fiercer this month. In fact, I expect we'll see a lot more in the next quarter than we are seeing in the current one. If you don't believe me now, you will soon: Google+ is the best thing that ever happened to Facebook.