In related news, Beta is now the No. 2 video tape format after VHS.
Indeed, at what point is
number 2 so far behind that it simply doesn’t matter?
In this case, LinkedIn isn’t really even relevant: its focus is entirely different from Facebook’s, and one wouldn’t really say that they compete with each other. This is really saying that MySpace has fallen so far back that it’s even gone below LinkedIn.
But another point is that the newcomer, Google+, is way down there at number 4 or lower. It’s in
beta, of course, but, well, that’s just Google, where pretty much everything is in perpetual beta. But Google+ is aiming to be a Facebook competitor. Is there any hope? Should they bother? Shouldn’t they put their resources where they might do more good? Won’t Google+ just go the way of Google Wave?
It certainly happens that something new comes from way, way back there and pushes its way to the front. That can sometimes be due to the prominence of the company backing it, as happened when Microsoft Internet Explorer took over the world, to the dismay of Netscape (Who?). Google certainly has a prominent, powerful position, but it seems unlikely that that alone would bump Facebook out of the number 1 spot, or even seriously threaten to.
The other way for a newbie to move up is by providing important improvements over what’s already out there. Facebook’s recent partnership with Skype gives it immunity from Google Voice, but Google is marketing Google+ as having better privacy than Facebook — and, &deity knows, the latter has had a great deal of bad press for its handling of privacy issues and controls.
So, is Google+ a better social-networking choice from a privacy standpoint? We have one datapoint so far, and it doesn’t look good: the folks at F-Secure, a Finnish anti-malware company, note that as part of the Google+ rollout, Google will be deleting all private profiles, thus requiring you to make your profile public if you want to keep it. What’s more, they’ve done a lot of the same things that Facebook has done, quietly making new things public and/or enabled by default, so you really have to keep on top of things to be sure you avoid information leaks.
That doesn’t sound like an improvement to me.