First there was usenet, arpanet, listserve and BBS’s, AOL, Prodigy, CompuServe, theGlobe, Tripod, Classmates, Homepage, then Homestead, GeoCities, Friendster, Sixdegrees, mySpace, Bebo, Orkut, Facebook and now we have Google +. All of these services at one point or the other were the AlphaDog of their time. Each of them for some period of internet time shared the limelight as THE ‘hot’ spot site to be seen and heard on. I had a block in GeoCities, used many a BBS (I dreamed in green and black back then), had a HomePage not a Homestead (disclaimer: I worked at HomePage.com) threw the most ridiculous backgrounds on my mySpace page with all of the ugliest stuff I could find on the planet, used Friendster, never did try a few other the others ( Sixdegrees, Bebo or Orkut). And of course have had a Facebook page since the ‘edu’ days when I tried to get in by using my old ‘edu’ email address from the University of Wisconsin (but that didn’t work for one reason or another I can’t recall). I’m not including Twitter in this post as I don’t consider it to be a place where you have a page that you call and fashion as your own – rather it’s a fire hose of information to share.
What’s interesting to note here is that nearly all of these early services back then lacked 2 major components unlike today – the addition of the mobile phone coupled with leveraging the GPS in phones to create a location-based user experience. This component has allowed all of us to extend our online personas to outside of our homes and desks where our main computer is. And, because of this, the use of these services and the traffic they generate like Facebook wouldn’t be possible. It has been said that over 100 million people access Facebook using a mobile phone every month (http://on.fb.me/rmoDN1). And that is just today. And about 300 million access Facebook on a computer monthly (http://tcrn.ch/owiarn).
Its been just about 1 month since Google + opened their doors to a select group of people. Invites now are beginning to trickle out, and it seems that Google + has over 10 million users thus far. That’s not bad. At that rate and when the general admission doors open up, 100-200 million users should be easily possible. By years end, I think we will see just those kind of numbers. And perhaps in 2 years, double that, say 400 million or more. Flash forward to the end of this year and the impending Facebook IPO. Now if you are on the Facebook IPO train, you’ve got to look hard over your shoulder and realize that it might be very possible that a few people who now use Facebook will begin to use Google + as more and more friends try the service. It’s not like this hasn’t happened before. Precedent has been set already. Look what’s happening to mySpace now? People who use and who have used all of these services are like minnows or lemmings – they all flock together and this happens quite quickly. There is no ‘loyalty’ I ever had to Classmates, AOL, mySpace and other sites I used like these. And today, given the proliferation of mobile phones and the ease at which we can access these sites along with the ‘notifications’ that come along with the mobile web apps we get, interacting and trying out any new service like Google+ is easier than ever before. So that’s what get me to think that the bankers on Wall Street are all smoking crack! Is Facebook really worth $ 100 billion dollars given the fact that Google + will more than likely have half the user base Facebook now has in a short 2 years? Does that mean that Google + just added $ 50 billion to the bottom line of Google? Perhaps Facebook valuations might stick to the wall a whole lot better had Google + not just launched, but given the history of these sites and the rapid following and user base Google + has already, the only ones that will make money from the FaceBook IPO will be the underwriters and Zuck. And if you haven’t tried Google + yet, run and get an invite from someone you know – it a breath of fresh air.