Sure, it’s way too early to call that a legitimate Facebook threat — only 740 million users to go! — but it’s also a sign that Facebook’s got its first serious rival (aside from Twitter, which recently deleted its user count from its about page and doesn’t like to talk about the fact that its active user count is comparatively small). For all the chatter about how G+ compares to Facebook and other rivals, here’s why I think it’s going to win: Ubiquity.
That, and a very carefully placed “click me click me!” button.
Like most Web surfers, I’m a creature of habit. I have my browser’s bookmarks bar laid out in a preferred order and move my mouse along it by rote: Search engine always on the far left, links button always on the far right, etc. For a very long while, the pattern on the bar that runs atop all Google’s websites has been “Web button on the left.” If you want to hit the search engine, click there.
Now when you run your mouse to that spot, it’s a link to Plus (once you have an account). I’ve clicked it a dozen times a day by accident, trying to go back to the search engine.
Eventually I’ll learn to stop doing that and reprogram my navigational patterns, but I’ll still be seeing that Plus link right by my mouse pointer, constantly and in a very prominent spot.
Which is why I think G+ will be a very powerful force. Google is choosing to make Plus pervade your Google experience — and thanks to Gmail, Maps, Images, and of course the search engine, the Google experience already pervades the Web experience for most of us.
This is hardly a death knell for Facebook; it’s got plenty of firepower in its own weapons storehouses. But G+ won’t be a niche player — this is going to be an unavoidable and ubiquitous network. -Stacy