Even as Facebook goes public and nears 1 billion users, Google+ still has a chance to become a major contender if it simply plays to its own strengths.
PCWorld - Now that Facebook has gone public and is nearing an astounding 1 billion members, it’s a good time to ask whether Facebook’s main rival, Google, can compete in the social networking game.
Google said in April that 170 million users had “upgraded to Google+,” but the company has been coy when it comes to specifying how many of those people actually use the social network on a regular basis. Some observers have suggested that it's mainly Google employees and hard-core Google loyalists who actively use the service today.
I still think Google+ can win out against Facebook in the end. But to do that, Google must learn how to play to its own strengths.
A lot rides on whether Google can pull that off. For ad targeting, Google can collect the data it needs from the subjects of people’s Web searches and the content of email, but that data isn’t nearly as personal and valuable as the stuff people willingly provide to Facebook every day. Social network data is far more individual and preference-oriented than other kinds of targeting data, and the long-term competitiveness of Google’s advertising business (96.5 percent of its revenue) may depend on Google's ability to get that data.
If anybody has a battle plan for Google+, it’s Larry Page. The Google cofounder and CEO has given some good reasons why Google+ will become a contender, but his reasons seem highly theoretical at this point.