Hundreds, if not thousands, of people are enjoying Google right now. What's stopping Google from letting millions more join in the fun?
Google will not become the social network it wants to be until Google lets everybody in. Open the doors, Google. Take the heat. It's going to take some time to reach three quarters of a billion users.
Google is only a week old, but I'm now on record demanding that the search engine giant open this remarkably polished social-networking playground to the masses. It seems, though, I am alone in my opinion. When I posted the above sentiment on Google , I was met with a flood of disagreement (and a teeny tiny bit of agreement).
"It's in beta," they argued. I reminded them that Gmail was in beta for years, yet open to all. "Limiting supply" will only fuel demand, they told me. They reminded me that Google often starts with closed betas (they did do this on Gmail), and I countered with "foolish consistencies are the hobgoblins of little minds." Actually, I never said that. In fact, the conversation was so interesting—it even included a surprise appearances by TwiT founder and star Leo Laporte and lengthy posts from Geek.com's Russell Holly—that I decided to let the conversation speak for itself.
Where possible, I've removed the timestamps and anything that was clearly off-topic, and cleaned up egregious typos and misspellings (not just my own). You'll note that I informed all who were in the thread that I might turn the whole conversation into a column. By the way, for all I know the conversation is still ongoing. You can view it here if you have a Google account, but you can't participate unless you're a Google member.
David Bleecher—It's in beta, at the moment. This is basically a stress test.
Lance Ulanoff —Gmail was in beta for years. That's no excuse.
Andrew Schmizzle—Pretty sure they are working towards that goal.
Lance Ulanoff —Time's a wastin'
Chris King—Quality takes time.. or they could just open it up, let it blow up and explode, then everyone not use it.
Geof Lambert —Yeah, but wouldn't you want it to be "good enough" before you opened up the "flood gates?" I know I would. I think there is a bit of difference in the complexity of a social networking site and an email client. But I hear what you are saying...though do recall while it didn't take too long to fall, Rome wasn't built in a day.
Russell Holly—And what happens if tomorrow Google suffers from fatal overloads and the entire service is unusable? Would that be good for Google ? The service has been in demo-mode for barely a week, and the number of users has already grown significantly. Which would be worse, denying access and brewing desire for the service, or opening the gates and watching it fall? Would the headlines cheer how many flocked to the new service, or berate Google for not being better prepared? I think they're better off being a little late.
Geof Lambert—I'd personally rather wait a few months and have something that would be of use and attract 6.7 billion users then rush out the door to capture just 750 users.
David Bleecher—Gmail was in "open" beta for years, there's a difference.
Lance Ulanoff —The days of "just right" are long gone. Software, online and social services are built around an iterative process.
Andrew Schmizzle—Also, limiting supply will increase demand.
Geof Lambert —I don't think they are waiting for "just right", I think they are waiting for "just good enough."
C. Gordon Carroll —Agreed completely. There's a good framework in place. Facebook breaks all the time, no reason we won't cut Google just as much slack while they get this off the ground.
Lance Ulanoff—The fact that both Wave and Google started as closed betas indicates to me that Google doesn't really know what it has here. Google is the foundation of an excellent social network. Wave was, well.
Lance Ulanoff —BTW: I'm thinking of turning this whole conversation into a public column—If Google was an open beta, I wouldn't need to do that.
Russell Holly—Gmail started as a closed beta as well. In fact, so did Docs. And Voice. I'm pretty sure this is just how Google does things, since there's such a strong behavioral pattern there.
Lance Ulanoff—So just because Google has done this before, we think they should do it again with Google . Why is everyone defending Google? What is everyone so afraid of? You don't think Google has the server power to support the influx of millions of users? Let it break and let people know that that is expected. It's a playground, with a base that will strengthen over time. As others have noted, Facebook has had issues all along. No one is walking away.
Lyle Dennis—I am anxious to see how G will operate in the vastness of the public domain but I do appreciate a little time to see how it operates with a small early adopter crowd. Google doesn't have the luxury of too much time here considering Facebook's advanced state so they will likely open the floodgates (or fire hose) soon
Eric Calabros—Google has a platform... an environment called Google Account. They don't need [an] Explosion
Kevin Mcleman—Facebook makes some big changes from time to time, which they still haven't got right. I think Google should open Google to the masses and just set the expectations that it is still being worked on.
Russell Holly—Facebook isn't a new service, and the early days of Facebook (you know, when it was closed to just colleges) downtime wasn't a thing that happened. When it left "closed beta" downtime was acceptable because of how large it had become.
Leo Laporte—No. Please. Don't let anyone else in. Let the unwashed masses have Twitter and Facebook. Let's keep G limited to the hardcore geeks.
Geof Lambert—Seriously, all kidding aside, what is your true sense of urgency? Do you honestly think Facebook or anybody else is going to do something drastic in the next few months that would impede the long-term progress and adoption of G ....I am always amazed by this its EITHER Facebook OR G talk... For heaven sakes they are both always going to be around coexisting just like Ford and GM and Pepsi and Coke. They are just going to another tab on the Chrome browser...nobody "realistically" is ever going to be able to completely drop one over the other.
Chris King— Leo Laporte hahaha.. I almost agree!
Jason Perlow—Open the pod bay doors, HAL.
Lance Ulanoff—Leo, the last thing we need is another geek-only playground, a place where people talk more about the environment than other stuff. Plus Facebook could use some real competition.
Michael Muchmore, PCMag software analyst—I was thinking, why make the public splash about it if it's not ready to launch to the public? But that's how Google, not being Apple, does things. Also, you need to open the testing to more than Google insiders to test scale, so they have to strike a balance between internal and public. But I don't remember any pre-release limited run for Apple's Ping. Remember Ping? Apple's social network?
Kevin Mcleman— geof Lambert great point!
Geof Lambert— OMG!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! If I hear talk like that again I am going to gag!! Leo Laporte Bring on the webcam girls!!! and Multi level marketers!!! They are a lot more interesting than a bunch of geeks....Look, go to AlwaysOnNetwork.com for the geek speak. Who remembers Tony's little first social network? You geeks had your chance with that and what happened to it?
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Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.
David Bleecher—I was in QA (for games) for some time, and I can tell you that it's not the server power that they're antsy on. It's the code. What works for 10,000 people may not work for 100,000 people. And, what if there's a piece of code that crashes out the entire service that will only come into fruition at user #102,351 creating a circle named "Random." That's one of the many reasons to stair step the beta to public.
Russell Holly —This is the way of things now Geof Lambert , if there's not a rivalry it's not interesting. The misconception that rivalry or "fanboyism" is good for innovation and competition drives the notion of a "natural enemy." iOS and Android, Facebook and Google , Microsoft and MacOs. The tech world devours what is fed to them. Controversy is king.
Michael Muchmore — Geof Lambert At first, it will not be either FB or G , just as, at first it wasn't either/or or for FB vs. MySpace. But in the end game, it is either/or.
Michael Muchmore—Oh, BTW, it's actually FB Twitter vs. Google Plus, since the last does what both do combined.
Geof Lambert—Michael..actually it's fb Twitter Tumbrl FourSquare if you ask me IMHO....do you use Tumblr much? :)
Lance Ulanoff —As we're debating this, I note that those with Google accounts can see this thread, but they cannot participate. Also there's the option of sharing a link to the thread, but that would be counter-intuitive if only those with Google accounts can see it, right?
Geof Lambert —Russell good point and that bodes to the age old..."how do we do away with war on Planet Earth between countries?" question. Simple..we just interject an intergalactic villain coming to conquer Earth...you can be sure D.C., Moscow, and Beijing would all be quickly in the same CIRCLE then if that happened! ;)
Chris King—wow where is the minus 1 button??
Russell Holly —The expectation that Google would provide competition to Facebook without first creating the same culture that allowed Facebook to become popular in the first place is ridiculous. Facebook was in the longest "Closed Beta" in recent memory, and used that to grow a community that demanded their friends and neighbors join them on this exciting new thing when it was finally open. So either you think we as a society have grown to be able to just migrate to "the next big thing", which is insane (as the dozens of "why Google will never be 'the next Facebook'" have suggested) or you're impatient. When it's "good enough" it will be open and it will become the competitor everyone expects it to be.
Jim Lynch—Lance, you seem a bit crabby this morning. Perhaps a little more fiber in your diet? ;) Seriously, Google is being very smart. They are using the exclusivity to increase interest & make [sure] invitations have value. Everybody likes to be first and part of something new. Plus they are making sure they don't overload the system. Be patient, they'll open it up when the time is right. Now go get that fiber, it'll make you feel a lot better. ;)
Lance Ulanoff—Russell, this is not about Fanboyism, it's about innovation coming to market. Holding back like this protects Google, but also hampers Google 's adoption rate beyond the usual fanboys and girls and tech cognoscenti. Google doesn't need us to win in the social space. It needs middle-aged moms and dads and teens and tweens sitting at home and traveling with their mobile phones, constantly updating their Facebook profiles.
Lance Ulanoff - Jim, Patience is futile!
Geof Lambert —Hahha to Chris and Jim, and really Russell does sum this up best......yes..well I think Lance got his "intended consequence" :) a little bit of feisty convo discourse fairly quickly. Good topic Lance..and all my Facebook friends bugging me to invite them I am sure will appreciate your quest to open the gates sooner than later. NEXT TOPIC?
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Copyright © 2010 Ziff Davis Publishing Holdings Inc.