I was moved by a recent blog post by Clara Shih titled, titled “Social Showdown: Google vs. Facebook” who in my mind is one of those real though leaders in the social media space.
What I find interesting and challenging for Google as they attempt to enter the social media space is about spread of the social graph amongst users that are looking for choice. Even though Google has 176M users of Gmail, Facebook is ~400M strong as a user base, with many of them using Gmail as a subset to their Facebook accounts. I thought with the release of Wave, Google was positioning itself out of the box from its own services to have an agnostic service that could eventually spread to all users. What makes Facebook so powerful ( in my mind) is that it can exist with many other products as a connector. Once you build something into an existing product, I find it pigeon-holes you into the users of that service and in many ways you can fall victim to your own boundaries. This has been a very complicated position for many years when I was at Nokia. Even when many services were launched, they were mainly only for Nokia devices and it was a challenge for those services to also work across other devices to create that brand awareness that this existed. This is my opinion, but I feel Social communication services should be agnostic to all services and devices and work as a form of connector of services. How will Buzz work within a Google defined structure of Gmail vs. Facebook that is agnostic and a service that stands alone on its own right that now is getting positioned across all mobile operators and something complementary to your email, IM, etc… In other words, I would say it would probably make more strategic sense for Facebook to incorporate the email service of your choice as opposed to try to create your own email service that again artificially creates a boundary of usage when users are comfortable with their own email service and email address to begin with.
I do believe that Google will find a very strong way to make Buzz a success, but being positioned in Gmail was something that might be limiting. Any other thoughts out there? Here is also a great presentation by Facebook Mobile at #MWC this past week.