As Facebook's growth slows from a meteoric pace, Google's efforts to grab lucrative space in the social media realm is warming up.
The company has launched its most aggressive if not ambitious social network effort to date with its new product Google+. Suggesting it lets users share just the right things with just the right people Google+ is targeting social media users of Facebook who are dismayed, if not often troubled by the fact that without effort on their part to adjust settings properly Facebook by default shares everything users post with all of their friends.
Google+ is in the invitation only product in the field trial stage, meaning the company is currently only allowing those to use it they have chosen. So social media users who haven't been invited by Google to try its Google+ social media product will have to wait until it is released to the general public.
However, Google (NASDAQ: GOOG) believes in has a winner by providing users more security from the start, allowing them to craft how much information they want to share by choice rather than releasing it all as Facebook does by default.
The subletety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of other social network and Google aims to fix it, said Vic Gundotra, a Google senior vice president, on the company's blog.
In related news, News Corp is expected to sell its troubled social media site Myspace in the next couple of days, according to a report from Bloomberg. News Corp paid $580 million for Myspace, one of the original mass audience social media sites, in 2005 but Facebook soon became the dominant player and Myspace struggled for audience. The report said more than half of Myspace's 500 employees are expected to be laid off because of the sale. Bloomberg reported that the deal of cash and stock will be worth less than $100 million.
Google's move is a direct attack on Facebook by Google, hoping to make a pivotal play in the fast-developing social media realm. Industry watchers have suspected Facebook would face stiff challenge sooner than later since the company gained so many users so fast as complaints about its security and default system regarding what information is shared have grown widespread. Facebook's rapid pace of growth has slowed in recent months, but only from its meteoric rise of the past year when millions of users were added every week.
Google is well positioned to move fast in social media, if it lands the right product, considering the company is already the leader in online advertising. Facebook began placing ads on its site in the past year and is on track to pass Yahoo in online advertising revenue but Google remains the leader. Some estimates, claim, however, that Facebook has in excess of 600 million users around the world, a daunting figure considering the United States, where Facebook is base, has 350 million residents.
Facebook has not taken Google's attempted move into social media lightly. Last month, a leading public relations firm revealed Facebook had hired that company to wage an information and opinion war against Google's Social Circle feature that allows users to see publicly available information on those they are online with through products such as Google Chat and Contacts.
The Google+ project has striking similarities to Facebook in design and user functions but the striking difference the company hopes to seize upon is that its program is designed groups in mind rather than an individual user sharing information with all their friends across the web.
In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who's in that room, but in the online world, you get a 'Share' box and you share with the whole world, said Bradley Horowitz, vice president of product management at Google who is leading the company's efforts with Gundotra, in the New York Times.
Facebook's biggest advantage thus far may be the length of time users spend on its site simply because so many people share so much information. Maybe they shouldn't, or maybe they don't want to after its too late, but millions do and the source of endless personal information spread by Facebook draws users into uses its site for longer than users use Google sites currently. For example, data from comScore reveals that Google sites brought in 180 million users in May, while Facebook brought in 157 million. But Facebook users spent an average of 375 minutes on its site while Google users spent only an average of 231 minutes.