The pressure is on at Facebook, which is expected to make an “awesome” announcement this morning. No one knows for sure what the news might be but, with the sort of momentum I’ve been watching unfold on Google+ over the past few days, the Facebook announcement will have to be “really awesome” if it wants to steal some of the Google+ chatter.
Google has this long list of products - mail, maps, docs and others that carry its name, as well as several others that are branded independently, such as Blogger, Picasa and YouTube. Word is that the company will change some names - YouTube being the exception - for more consistency under the Google brand. Picasa is already becoming a major piece of the Google+ puzzle, integrated as simply “photos,” and the potential to bring others into the mix can’t be too far behind.
You see, Google+ is already becoming more than just a social network. It’s more like a new platform for communications, almost like what Wave could have been if it hadn’t tried to enter the scene as something new and unknown. If Wave had come in looking more like, well, Facebook and then rolled in all of the other stuff later - you know, like file sharing, video chat, voice communications and so on - then maybe it wouldn’t have been shuttered so quickly.
Already, I’m seeing examples on Google+ users testing the boundaries of what it can become, how it will be used and how much they’re willing to share. Vic Gundrota, Google’s Senior VP for Engineering, posted on his Google+ account late last week, “We’re listening. And making changes. Daily.” It was accompanied by a video of a Google software engineer announcing two changes that would be implemented over the holiday weekend. And finally, there were hundreds of comments to his post, many of which included suggestions for design changes and integration with other products.
And then there was the New York Times post about how Hangouts, as a video chatroom experience, has potential to be the killer app for Google+. While I’m not necessarily the type of guy who would jump into a video hangout room for a virtual karaoke all-nighter with friends, I certainly would join in for a virtual business meeting.
Ah, yes, businesses. Let’s not forget that Google has been pushing hard, with its Apps offerings, to get into the business environment. And suddenly, there’s potential for a communications platform that businesses could tap into - a single place where personal lives and business lives can securely co-exist, with the users deciding how much overlap there will be.
I don’t know that businesses would be so quick to adopt a Facebook model for video conferencing or other communications. However, a piece of speculation about today’s Facebook announcement has the news as a joint effort - perhaps video chat - between Facebook and Skype. Skype, of course, is about to be acquired by Microsoft, which is a rival to Google in the business software space, among others.
Isn’t it nice when all of the pieces of the puzzle fall into place and things start making sense?
As a side note, I can’t help but wonder how much scrambling is going on in Washington as regulators try to keep track of all of the latest developments. Remember: the Federal Trade Commission isn't just poking around Google. It's investigating Twitter now, too. Things change fast in Silicon Valley and you've got to move just as fast if you want to keep up.
Maybe this is just what Washington needed to finally start moving at more of a Silicon Valley-like pace.
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