Google officially pulled back the curtain on Google+ today and opted for a slow, controlled roll-out instead of opening the floodgates.
And therein lies the goof.
Facebook is the behemoth in the social networking world right now, boasting over 500 million active users–all of whom have invested heavily in the service. All their friends are there as well as photos, videos, notes and other content. They play games there. They organize events there. They interact on Pages and in Groups with others who share their interests. Regardless of what pundits may want to believe, people aren’t going to just drop Facebook on a dime and flock to Google+.
One reason is that they can’t, because of the whole slow roll-out. The other is that the masses just won’t be there to make the site sticky when they do arrive.
Those who do have access to the service are lamenting the fact that they have access to Google+’s cool new features and no one to use them with. That curiosity will wane and those users will end up right back where they started–on Facebook, where everyone else is. In time, a new wave of Google+ users will be invited into the kingdom only to find their friends have abandoned it.
This isn’t like Gmail, which went through the slow roll-out phase. Gmail had no social aspect. Users replaced their old email provider with Google’s new service and had no idea whether one person was using it or millions were using it. Google also had novelty on their side, and it hadn’t failed at email multiple times before like it has with social.
If Google expects to have a chance at dethroning Facebook, they need to get Google+ ready for prime-time and get as many people using it as possible. ASAP.