Tag Archives: Facebook

Do people want all-purpose?

11 Aug

That said, if Facebook introduces its own check-in service, the companies and investors that have been dominating geolocation to date may be in trouble.

via Facebook tiptoes closer to launching geolocation | VentureBeat.

I’ve often thought about whether consumers want an all-purpose anything.  Do we want one search engine for every type of search?  Google’s dominance suggests the answer is yes.  Do we want one auction site for anything we wish to buy or sell?  Ebay appears to be the dominant player with just a couple of specialty competitors.  How about price quotes, do we want one site where we can get a quote for anything?  The answer on this seems to be pretty clearly no because we have LendingTree for mortgages, uShip for shipping, Cars.com for cars, and many many more.

If we narrow our focus to social networks or how we manage our social relationships, I wonder if we really want to do everything at Facebook, our Wal-Mart of social networks, or if we prefer to go boutique at Gowalla or Foursquare for our check-ins.

The key here is in determining how most people actually use facebook as it is and social check ins as they are.  Facebook’s central bet with starting their own check-in service may be that when you share your location you want to do this for all 1,100 of your friends.  But I’m willing to bet that lots of people will be turned off by this and that they will prefer to circulate to a much smaller group of friends.

At the end of the day, all-purpose solutions in social networks may just come down to whether we prefer intimacy or efficiency.  So far Facebook has made a bundle on efficiently keeping up with your friends.  But close friendships don’t thrive on this type of behavior and I do think that one of the points of check-ins is to enjoy quality time with friends, not just share your location.  Social networking with intimacy as its goal may be the very reason why Facebook shouldn’t create its own services but rather opt to allow–as it has thus far–its users to broadcast their Foursquare location through facebook.

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Composing a viable social network alternative, tips for Google Me

29 Jun

The web has been abuzz with news that Google is planning “Google Me” to compete with Facebook.  Google’s social network strategy should have the same playbook as their mobile phone strategy–exploit the competition’s desire to control every aspect of the user experience.

  1. Portability – You have to give me the freedom to leave as well as the freedom to quickly import my current facebook profile and to offer my friends the ability to join.  This may seem like a no-brainer with Facebook Connect but I doubt Facebook is going to actually help Google build a competitor.
  2. Search results control – I should have at least some control of what shows up when someone googles my name.
  3. Ultimate privacy and ownership of my data – If Google Me followed the proposed featureset of Diaspora and made their social network “personally controlled” and “open source,” you might see a big shift.
  4. Web Push and Pull – Facebook already allows you to “Like” and to comment on certain articles but you can go a step further by taking all of the content you create on the web and making it cross-linkable back to Google Me.
  5. Full Hoarding ability – Right now I use Flickr for photos, facebook for social networking, delicious for bookmarks; all so that I can hoard and keep track of my personal activity and the activity of others.  A universal space with privacy settings I trust and can completely control would be amazing.  I honestly would use Facebook for this but I don’t trust them to keep my data private.
  6. Buy LinkedIn – This only works if Google Me wants to operate as a social network that is slightly more serious than Facebook.  As Facebook becomes more and more MySpace-like, there’s probably a space for a different kind of social network. The additional benefit of buying LinkedIn is that you get a pretty massive user base that has LinkedIn as their only social network.

What’s interesting is that Google’s strength in this area cannot come from superior engineering (facebook is just as good) but must come from a cultural commitment to allowing users complete freedom over their information.

Google Me, the company’s answer to Facebook, may be real. But it’s a longshot. | VentureBeat.

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