The One Google Plus Feature Facebook Should Fear

While tech pundits are widely praising Google’s new Plus product, I’ve found the one feature that could take away from Facebook where it’s most dominant: Time on the site.

Facebook users are known for staying on the site for over half an hour a day, something no other site could compete with… until now.

To be honest, my gut reaction after using Google Plus was initially, “Why on earth would anybody switch to this from Facebook?”

However, when I loaded up Google Finance as I do every morning, I suddenly realized that I was asking the wrong question. The reality is that users won’t have the option of not using Google Plus.

Google already has more users than Facebook, over one billion. They aren’t going to suddenly leave Facebook in droves, they’re just going to spend more time on all the sites in Google’s network. That big notifications box in the top right of all Google sites is the reason why.

As I’m browsing around Google-powered sites there’s occasionally a red notification alert that pops up and immediately grabs my attention. Soon enough I’m clicking through the various notifications and seeing what my friends have shared and who has recently begun sharing with me.


It’s a not-so-subtle tactic by Google to quickly increase the amount of time you end up spending on Google properties. It’s also an easy way to immediately add social discovery to all of Google’s products.

The notifications box is also something that Google could leverage to steal one of Facebook’s most valuable assets: developers.

Something like 30 percent or more of all Facebook users’ time on the site is from applications. While Zynga, which is reportedly filing to go public this week, has built a multi-billion dollar business on top of the platform, it has little loyalty to the company.

The primary reason is that Facebook is now taking a 30 percent cut of every game developer’s business. By contrast, Google, which brings in over $30 billion in revenue each year, could easily afford to let developers keep all the money they generate.

Add in the fact that Google also has the fastest growing mobile distribution channel of any company (Android) and you suddenly realize the power that the search giant has to woo developers.

No, Google Plus is not a “Facebook killer,” but despite the company’s numerous failed attempts at getting into social media, the new Plus product gives users no other option but to accept the fact that Google is becoming exactly that: social.

This is clearly just the start, though. Once Google Plus becomes stable and more widely used, the company will attempt to compete with Facebook where it matters most by building an entire social platform. The notifications are just one indicator of what lays ahead.

Readers, have you tried Google Plus yet — do you think it has the potential to cut into your use of Facebook?

Disclosure: I own shares of Google.

Update
Looks like I was dead on with the platform prediction … there’s now code already showing their interest in launching games within the system.

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