Google made some news this week with a Google+ app update for iOS devices. With the latest Google+ version, iOS users can now choose to have their snapped photos and recorded videos automatically uploaded to Google+, accessible and shareable from any device (all media is set to private by default). This had previously been a feature available only to Android users.
Much of the coverage of Google+ new instant upload feature has put it in contrast with Apple’s iCloud service (Mashable has a good write up here). While this feature may be a reasonable alternative to iCloud, I believe Google is trying to fry a bigger fish: Facebook.
I’ve recently written about the potential for Facebook to be disrupted in the mobile space. As Facebook’s user base, and social media in general, becomes more mobile, Facebook’s poor mobile experience becomes more of a liability. In my last post, I listed of a series of apps (Twitter, Instagram, Path, Foursquare) that provide core mobile social experiences that are superior to Facebook. Much of these apps’ success can be attributed to their mobile-first ideology, not by attempting to recreate a convoluted desktop experience on mobile.
However, while these apps provide the opportunity for disruption, Facebook still has three major advantages: your friends, your photos, and stacks of cash. If Facebook can create a valuable mobile social experience and monetize it, then the impact of these mobile first social apps will be limited.
Enter Google. Google has the cash to compete with Facebook, and it is certainly doing everything possible to leverage the strength of its platform to fuel Google+ growth. With the latest version of Google+, Google has provided the majority of mobile users the most frictionless way to share multimedia content of all the major social networks. Currently, on my two primary smartphones, I have hundreds of photos than I have never shared to Facebook, because it’s a pain. Having that done for me automatically is a very compelling reason, and perhaps the first compelling reason, to use Google+ as my primary social network. My friends and family may all still be on Facebook, but as more and more apps and services arrive to provide a better mobile social experience, that becomes less of a guarantee.
Your move, Facebook.