The battle royale continues! Google finally launched their +1 product equivalent to the like today, opening an entirely new round of Facebook vs Google, also entitled “You’re crossing my line, Mom, he’s crossing my line. Mom, mom, he might actually, yep, he touched my business!”
I will keep going back to my old gripe with this fight. I don’t think its encouraging any sort of innovation. I think instead it is an instance of two very bloated hogs trying to fit through the same doorway first. Remember how Apple came up with something called the iPod a long time ago before they just changed the size of things? And remember how Microsoft released the Zune? Google’s +1 is the search engine Zune.
What is innovative and special about the the Google +1 button (other then being obnoxious to type)? Nothing. It’s Google’s Like button. Apparently, Google liked the Facebook like button so much, they decided to +1 it! OR is it Plus1’d? Or +1d as other bloggers seem to prefer? All it makes me want to do is figure out the variable value for ‘d’ in the equation.
This shows that Google is behind the gun. I think that this is another big misstep on their part, and while it might be widely used (based on the sheer number of Google account holders) I don’t think this brings anything new to the equation. I could Like something before, I could add it to StumbleUpon, I could do a bunch to promote a specific site that I found someplace random online inside my ‘social network’. Now I just have to get another button to click.
The biggest fear here is that it is an example of the ongoing degradation of Google’s search products. I hear less and less about real innovations and ways to make search an innate response to human inquiry, and more and more about how user friendly and oriented to the masses it is. If the +1 operates like a vote of popularity like it seems to be intended to do, I predict two things will occur. Firstly, Google will get lazy and start to use the +1 as a factor in search rankings. Secondly, the +1 factor will serve as another meaningless guide for end users who don’t understand how the search results are generated for them. Instead of being relevant, quality sites, they’ll be shown something that has a lot of +1 votes.
I’d rather know that my search algorithm was getting smarter and was understanding actual user behavior rather then trying to make a new method to control it. That just seems to defeat the purpose.
The next big fear is that the other search providers, Bing and Yahoo, will soon follow suit, because Google did it. Ultimately, I believe that Facebook and Google, in their focus on how to take each others’ business will simply be the flushing action that sends the whole darned thing down the toilet.
Facebook vs. Google is really Facebook vs. Google vs. User Experience. Arguably each has added significantly to our web experience, and for that we owe them respect (and have provided them with billions of dollars, so maybe I don’t owe that much respect). But I fear that what they did to put us out ahead, they will now be doing to pull us down.
I get that my lowly Seattle web design and LA SEO firm opinion doesn’t matter enough to them to change this course. But perhaps, if my predictions become true, I can at least encourage a new design for the +1 button. A logo, which I feel, adequately conveys our ability to say, “This is my individual opinion, and you can put that in your +1 and suck it!”.
I’ll try to keep you guys up to date should any new revelations and innovations happen to come out of this meeting of the mutually oversized behemoths of our search marketplace and our social media experience. Ultimately, I can probably just post once. If either Facebook or Google happens to do something, the other will undoubtedly come up with a stupid name and version of it and introduce it into their core product. Great.