Google Plus Live Hangouts Might Obliterate Facebook
Richard is a member of The Motley Fool Blog Network -- entries represent the personal opinion of the blogger and are not formally edited.
Grandma: "Billy, what time is your championship game on TV?"
Billy: "It starts at 1:00 Grandma, are you gonna watch?"
Grandma: "Of course I am Billy!"
Question: Is Billy a professional athlete?
No, Billy is a 12 year old Little Leaguer whose team made the city finals, and Grandma is all the way in Virginia, and she'll be watching the game live and chatting about it in real time along with other members of the family. How is this possible? Via Google Plus (NASDAQ: GOOG) Live Hangouts!
Hangouts, which were previously limited to 10 people, have opened the door to be broadcast to millions of people at once. In all fairness, investors, and especially Mark Zuckerberg, should have seen this coming. Google thinks big, and the ability to have a hang out with 10 people, coupled with the fact that Google has already hosted On Air Live Hangouts with the likes of David Beckham, Desmond Tutu, President Obama, and the Muppets, should have hinted at what was coming.
Video: Google Plus Live Hangouts
The thing is, Grandma and Billy are going to have to have Google Plus accounts in order to watch, share their thoughts, and comment in real time. This is a huge innovation, and Facebook is nowhere near countering this. They have had nearly a year to match Google Plus's original hangouts, but of the best they have done is one on one integration from Microsoft's (NASDAQ: MSFT) Skype.
Now, to see events from a billion new live television stars from around the planet, you'll need a Google Plus account, but you're not going to be able to comment on Facebook on it in real time.
The competitive advantage that Facebook has had, its "moat" if you will, is its ubiquity of use. If I want to interact with my friends I don't see every day, I have to do it on Facebook because almost none of my technologically challenged amigos are using Google Plus. Facebook has been the default setting for us all, simply because its everybody elses default setting.
I once made the analogy, that Facebook was like the sun of the social media world and the more planets (people) it had circling it, the stronger its gravitational pull became, and each person's orbit became tighter and tighter around the sun.
In one fell swoop, Google has the potential to instantly divert gravity. Billy will tell Grandma to hurry up and sign-up for a Google Plus account so she can watch his game live, along with the rest of his classmates. As they comment and share their thoughts, they'll also be getting into the habit of using Google Plus, as well as forming a very strong positive association to the company (assuming Billy's team wins.)
There are significant technological challenges to building a competing system. Yes, I'm well aware of Microsoft's X-Box Live System, and Sony Entertainment Network, or some combination of which would likely speed up Facebook/s recovery efforts, and I know this will naturally be a beta rollout, controlled, with plenty of bugs, but Google has at minimum a large lead and I anticipate that they will be promoting this fantastic feature heavily in the coming months, in an effort to add to their user use.
The other possibility is that Facebook buys out Kondoot.com, which offers a similar product/ idea to Google Plus Live Hangouts, but doubtfully with the same technological backbone available to Big G.
Facebook will still have tremendous gravitational pull, but if Facebook doesn't answer, and answer swiftly, you can darn well bet that Google will be attracting many planets to its own sun (son)- Google Plus.
Discussion Question: Why whenever we create a hypothetical 12 year old boy, is his name always Billy? For me, it's Grandpa Marsh referring to Stan by that name on South Park. What's your excuse?
funspirit has positions in GOOG and MSFT. The Motley Fool owns shares of Google and Microsoft. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend Google and Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. If you have questions about this post or the Fool’s blog network, click here for information.