Welcome to the Jungle: Facebook and Alphabet Slip, Amazon Posts Record Profits

We’re tired of social, but we still love search and shopping.

We noted last week that Facebook might be in some trouble.

Yesterday, some numbers came out that help fill in the picture.

Facebook’s earnings outpaced predictions, but shares fell yesterday anyway as investors worry that less time spent on the platform will continue to drive value down.  2017’s fourth quarter was Facebook’s worst ever in terms of new users.

Alphabet, the parent of Google, saw its stocks slip yesterday on missed earnings numbers, though its revenue is fine thanks to the continued strength of ad sales.

It was nothing but good news for Amazon, though, which just posted its largest profits ever.  The news about productivity-tracking wrist bands on workers in its warehouses don’t seem to bother investors, nor does the application of sorting-line management models to Whole Foods.

People are getting tired of Facebook.  It’s just a fact.  I don’t know how much of that has to do with fake news (its leadership thinks that’s a big part of it), but my hunch is that we’re tired of the stupid fights on one hand and the echo-chamber dynamic on the other.  For all of the good it certain can do for drawing attention to marginalized concerns, social media has also made us sick of each other.

We may give up on social.  We may cede less of our wealth and time to Google.  But we’ll never stop buying actual things, and Amazon will never stop selling them to us.  They will quantify every quantifiable thing in their pursuit of profit, including the people keep their company going.

One hundred and twelve years ago, Upton Sinclair called the newly industrialized world “the jungle.”  Soon, we may simply call it “Amazon.”

 

How Google+ Sees The Allentown Arts District and Environs

I just started on Pinterest because I’m looking for an intuitive, visual way to tell the story of the arts infrastructure in Allentown.  I pinned pics from a Google+ gallery, which turned out to be a less intuitive process than I supposed.  To really make the Pinterest board look the way I want, I think I’m going to have to upload pictures individually, and that’s sort of not the point of Pinterest.  The more I think about it, though, the more Google+’s default layout for this album feels exactly right.  Check it out here.

 

Divergent Visions of the Past: What Would Google+, YouTube, and Facebook Have Looked Like in 1997? (And Some Guest Apperances)

Once Upon has their answer. I love the spirit of their project, but I believe the truth is much simpler, and it’s called AOL. Circa 1997.

Speaking of which:

Beck in 1997

I literally cannot watch that video for fear of the uncontrollable mourning that might pour forth.  Not a longing for my teenage years as such, but a sadness at how the Beckthos just didn’t stick.

MTV in 1997

That song is as good now as ever.

Is Google Rebranding or De-branding?

Resolved: People, for whatever reason, tend to view Google as less of a brand and more of a utility.

Suggested reasons: Google is, in fact, utilitarian. It’s under-branded to the extreme, and even its logo is generic.  Before anyone had Google accounts or Gmail, we were already using “google” as a verb.  The lack of flash, the absolute dearth of iconography…the lame font and funny multi-colored name, these things are disarming almost to the point of making you forget that Google wants each and every bit of your personal information even more (perhaps) than Facebook.

Facebook is nothing if not a brand.  Rightly or wrongly, we think we get what Mark Zuckerberg is all about, and that necessarily flavors our understanding of his company’s ethics, ambition, and culture.

I said last week that when I’m using Google+, I don’t feel like I’m in some proprietary fishbowl circa 1990s AOL.  Google looks and acts like a utility, and we’ve come to think of access to what Google does best (search) as precisely that.  Facebook is a fishbowl by design, and Zuckerberg’s quest to keep you in/on Facebook for all your webly needs shows that he’s bound and determined to validate and more effectively monetize Steve Case’s old vision. Maybe Google+ does, as Zuckerberg claims, validate Facebook’s (old) vision, but only in terms of ambition.  Plus is built with the relationships grown-ups have in mind, and Facebook was built as a college network.  It has adapted over the years to fit the needs of adults, but it still feels like your last visit to the pediatrician.  Early adopters are hitting 30 and needing a social network that’s intuitive and easily customizable, something more akin to real-world connections than “friending” and more useful and dynamic than boring old LinkedIn.

Last week we learned that Google will retire the Blogger and Picasa brands as they begin to roll those services into Plus.  Is everyone starting to understand that Google+ is Google, and Google is Google+?  Blogger.com is the epitome if Web2.0 branding, and if you’re not already using Picasa, it just feels like another thing.  So Google is rolling these brands into itself, making them more useful and more generic than they’ve ever been.  The lighter the brand recognition, the more likely we are to trust you with our data.  Silly, isn’t it, given Google’s size, influence, and sometimes-faltering commitment to publicly stated values?  Sure is.  But it’s also true.

Don’t think so?  Check out Delloitte’s recent study proving that we already hate branded apps.  While Facebook is busy becoming the largest branded app in history, Google is de-branding everything but YouTube (which also doesn’t feel like a brand).  Interesting, isn’t it?

Goodbye, Blogger. Hello, Bloggers! Google To Rebrand Picasa and Blogger.com

Google's homepage in 1998
But seriously, can we please bring back the ! ?

Eagle-eyed reader Joey the C sent me a link with the news that the Picasa and Blogger brands are going bye-byes.  I said the other day that Google+ is a great way to make Picasa relevant, and the shift to Google Photo and Google Blogs makes total sense as Google positions itself for the widespread rollout of Google+.  They need a unified front, afterall.  And before we compare them too much to the old AOL fishbowl (which Facebook is trying to become), the seams between Google’s products feel…nimbler…to me.  With Google+ and the overall Google account experience, I still feel like I’m out on the web, whereas with Facebook, I feel very much like I’m on one site or in one social network.  Thoughts?

I, for one, will be glad to see the Blogger name retired.  We’re all bloggers, and most of us use WordPress =).

Dear Google: Keep It Simple So We’ll Stay

Over the last few weeks I’ve had quite a few posts up about comics.  Over the last two days, I’ve been hitting the Google+ meme.  Now, finally, I shall combine them.  Or two other people will.

Seriously, Google.  Do not bring games and pokes and all of that stuff onto Google+.  That’s what Facebook is for, and if you want to succeed at being a better Facebook and making current Facebook the new My___, then keep things simple.  More Berkshire Hathaway (yes, that is their real website), than, well, whatever the oppo WHAT? WARREN BUFFET OWNS DAIRY QUEEN? WHEN DID THIS HAPPEN?