Why Google+ Will Never Beat Facebook

Google+'s traffic is taking a long slide down the shitter, having lost last month's entire 1269% traffic spike. Reading this forced me to remember it exists. Google+ is simply worse than Facebook. And you know what? It'll never catch up.

There's nothing complicated about Plus' meteoric hype party and subsequent thud. It goes like this:

(Almost) everyone loves Facebook.
(Almost) everyone loves Google.
Google says they've got a Facebook replacement.
We all go wide-eyed—could it be better than Facebook?
Google+ is invite-only.
We love feeling cool and having an invite.
We fool ourselves.
We get bored.

We arrived at that last step some time ago, struggling to make use of a social network that just wasn't interesting enough to force us to care once the mantle of exclusivity was lifted. Google+ is fucking boring—so much that we had to write a long article just trying to figure out how to use it.

It's not complicated, mind you—and that's even more damning. Google+ is a simple website that's still totally puzzling. It provides no justification for its own existence. It exists because Google proclaimed it ought to, and that'll never be enough. As our Mat Honan put it in his attempt to help figure out what the hell Google+ is, "It's all white space and open air, inviting lengthy discourses. And the lengthy discussions tend to attract blowhards." This was always true: Google+ was best at being a place to talk about Google+.

When you try to move beyond the Hey, I'm not using Facebook! How does this work? dimension of Google+, you find there's no reason to stay. The site's worse than irrelevant: it's redundant. There's no niche, no small slice to serve, no tight community of geeks in need of a petri dish. There's nothing unique or even welcoming about Google+ at all, no special area that gives you something Facebook can't. Its a clean clone, an inferior, whitewashed Facebook—and there will never be a point in being friends with someone in two places.

Aside from indulging privacy paranoids and irritating tech contrarians, Facebook is simply better at every single thing Google+ attempts. Say what you want about its advertising, its privacy settings, its absurd redesigns—Facebook is stellar at what it sets out to do. It murdered photo sharing services, decimated the use of Instant Messaging, is in the ring with Twitter, and, of course, is where all your friends are. And for a social network, we want to be where our friends are—we don't want to experiment with Google's bright sterile waiting room. Zuck's just doing it better than Google.

Google+ has a news feed—Facebook's is better.
Google+ has a wall of some kind—Facebook's is better.
Google+ had "Circles," which elicit erections across the internet for some reason—Facebook stole the idea and made Lists, which are the same thing.

And that last one's crucial. No matter what Google+ might have on Facebook, Facebook can always take. They stole Twitter for statuses, they ripped AIM and Skype for Facebook Chat, and they'll ransack whatever few nuggets of worth lie in Google+ as well. They'll always be ahead. It's an impossible fight: whatever Google+ can do, Facebook either already is doing better or will do just as well. Nobody's going to move to the apartment next door just because the walls are painted whiter. Google+ will lie fallow, its grave a simple marble obelisk next to Wave's byzantine crypt.


You can keep up with Sam Biddle, the author of this post, on Twitter, Facebook, or Google+.