This post started as a comment on Google +, but I realized that it was a bigger conversation, why is Google ignoring Mobile? What? How can I possibly say that? They own the android mobile operating system, which is the largest selling mobile operating system in the world. They just bought Motorola Mobile. They are obviously taking mobile very seriously and are fully committed to it.
Mobile and Social
A few months ago I wrote a post questioning whether it was possible to have a social media strategy that didn’t include mobile. I don’t believe it is. Google has built the fastest growing social network in the history of online social networks. For a company that, on the face of it seems so invested in mobile (let’s not forget they launched their mobile payment system last week), the Google + mobile app, both on the android platform and the Apple iOS can only be described as ridiculously bad.
While Google rolls out new features to the desktop version like search, circle sharing etc. The mobile app doesn’t allow for the basics like link sharing, people tagging or search. I know the naysayers will tell me, hey it’s early days yet, the platform hasn’t been out a full quarter, they will have those features soon and all the other excuses. It seems to me that Google came to this project expecting a failure, similar to Buzz, Wave and their other social attempts and so decided not to invest in the product.
Mobile Is Social
To miss the opportunity of building and delivering the best mobile experience is completely bewildering to me. 50% of all internet searches take place on a mobile device, by 2014 more than 50% of all internet searches will be from mobile devices – did Google forget they are a search company? Google’s biggest competitor in the social space – Facebook – is taking mobile very seriously apparently (though again we have yet to see any real evidence of this in their application). Erick Tseng, head of mobile products at Facebook was quoted as saying that “Mobile platforms are becoming as important — if not more so — than desktop releases”.
If Google seriously wants to compete against Facebook then it has to take that attitude, and given that it is already light years ahead of Facebook in the mobile space it really shouldn’t be that hard. The phone is arguably the most social piece of technology ever invented. True the amount of time that early adopters spend actually using the voice functionality is declining but the mobile device remains connected in the minds of the user with being social, whether that is sharing a location, updating a status, playing a game or yes even talking.
Mobile And Google
Google doesn’t have the excuse that so many companies trot out about the lack of development for the android version of an app, “we haven’t had the time/funding/development skills” They own the platform, this was/is their opportunity to showcase what the platform can do. Ok so recently they launched Hangouts for mobile – great if you happen to have an android device with a forward facing camera (I do but many don’t) but what about the basics?
The approach from Google has been to build out functionality for the desktop – which is understandable, given that they view the majority of their users as being there and then trickle the features over to the mobile application, this is also the model that Facebook has followed. Because these behemoths of social take this slant, other companies, who are looking to them as models on which to base their own social behavior are following this pattern. Erick Tseng also doesn’t see the changes at Facebook coming any sooner than the next 12 – 18 months, which is a very long time, given the speed of change in the social space (18 months ago who was predicting Google would have the fastest growing social platform?).
How important is mobile to your social life?