What I’m finally realizing — and what so many people have said over and over in the past year, but I’ve never quite comprehended is this: the web is moving. Fast. Companies like Facebook, Google+, and Apple are trying to step up their game and do what they think is necessary to win over the minds of fickle consumers with short attention spans, little patience, and little enduring brand loyalty.
Facebook is doing this at a super fast-paced, breakneck speed that seems to cater to partners, developers, and engineers rather than the end user. And G+ is coping by pumping out core features and heading down the consumerization route with games and brand pages. Apple is doing what it needs to add pizzazz, social tie-ins, and extra functionality to its product (assuming Robert Scoble and others are right, and this new announcement does incorporate Facebook) and to attempt to take down Android.
So many of these changes, enhancements, and announcements are entirely reactive rather than proactive. These three titan companies — Apple, Google, and Facebook — are competing in a neck-to-neck battle for our love in the social realm (and, indeed in many other aspects as well), though their core businesses are entirely different. Nonetheless, there’s tension, competition, and more feature and product releases than we can honestly keep up with.
And, to me at least, everything seems to center around Facebook. Apple is the odd one riding the social wave here, from its attempts at Twitter integration to the impending Facebook partnership tomorrow. And G+? Unless it can find a way to make itself entirely relevant to a mainstream audience, I predict it’s headed back to the attic. It’s as though Facebook has already won, but no-one’s ready to go down without a fight, including Facebook.
As much a fan as I am of healthy competition, I worry that the end user experience from these battles might be getting kind of crazy. Chris Taylor from Mashable writes that Facebook is Getting Too Damn Complicated, and I have to agree. Yes, new features are great and all. But are they still great when they’re pumped out at hurtling speed to compete with another company or product, rather than keeping the user in mind?
My 2 cents: Breathe, you guys. And don’t forget about your users.
Update: I was wrong, too. Sorry, guys!
Bigger update: Wow
You will be missed, Steve.