Tag Archives: Zynga

Help! Google Has Fallen And It Can’t Get Up!

Can you hear that?

That sound…what is it? Oh, right! It’s the sound of crickets chirping.

Last week, The Wall Street Journal exposed embarrassing numbers for Google’s failed attempt at social networking. As a few of you already know, Google launched “Google Plus” last June to rival Facebook. Google Plus is pretty much a copy and paste of Facebook in the look and design of the site. Though, Google lacks many interesting features Facebook has and it lacks the gigantic numbers. While Facebook sits mighty high with over 800 million users from all over the world, Google Plus has a mere 90 million users (and that’s being generous).

You might think that 90 million is still pretty good – but is it really? It turns out that Google Plus may have managed to get 90 million users signed-up, but that’s just about the only thing most users are doing.

The engagement levels on Google Plus is quite pathetic – a dismal. It’s a virtual ghost town. The Wall Street Journal looked at statistics provided by comScore and saw that between September 2011 and January 2012 Google Plus users spent an average of – get this – three minutes per month on the site. In comparison, Facebook users spent an average six to seven hours on the site every month. It’s not even close.

Oh and do you remember Myspace – of course you do – well even their user engagement beats Google Plus by almost three times as much. Keep in mind that Myspace has an audience of about 27 million users smaller than Google Plus.

This embarrassing revelation serves Google right for lying. This is what happens when you try to boost up your sign-up numbers to give off the appearance that you’re successful, when you’re actually not.  In the first few days of its public launch, Google Plus spiked by 1,200% – but it quickly plummeted days later by 60%. Google loves to emphasize user count numbers to the media, but they are hesitant to disclose traffic numbers and the number of items people on the site share each day.

The CEO of Google, Larry Page, failed to tell the media the whole truth when he uttered this nonsense in January:

“Google Plus users are very engaged with our products. Over 60% of them engaged daily and 80% engaged weekly”

If journalists didn’t listen closely, they might have been really impressed with those numbers – especially considering that even Facebook doesn’t have over 60% of its users engaging on their site daily. If you noticed, Mr. Page said “our products”. Now, why would he bring up other Google products when the subject of the talk is supposed to be about Google Plus? Oh that’s right, it’s to bump up those numbers!

Google forces people to sign-up for a Google Plus account even when they don’t want it because Google thinks that if you use any one of Google’s products it means you want all of Google’s products. So if a person did a search on their search engine, Google will count that as engagement on Google Plus too –seriously haha. This is why their numbers are so bloated – it’s absolutely artificial and false. This is a great example on how Google misleads the public.

Even though everybody caught Google’s lies and exaggeration, Google still lives in its own little world. The vice president of product management for Google, Bradley Horowitz, said that “we’re growing by every metric we care about”. Ha-ha….okay…whatever dude….if it makes you happy.

However, not all Google employees are excited about Google Plus – at least not to the self-described “lowest leaf workers”. Steve Yegge, a Google engineer, accidently posted a 5,000 word rant ripping apart Google Plus and calling it a “pathetic afterthought” – ouch! Mr. Yegge inadvertently aired his frustration on his Google Plus page to all his followers when it was only meant to be seen by a few co-workers. He later apologized to his bosses – but he was just stating fact.

One of the things that frustrated Mr. Yegge was the fact that Google Plus fails to have good applications running on their site. Much of Facebook’s successful can be attributed to its games and apps – but Google fails big on this. Google doesn’t have nearly has much developed apps and the ones that they do have are showing underwhelming activity among users.

John Schappert, the chief operating officer of games maker Zynga, said Google Plus has “been slow on the uptick with users right now”. The company started offering games on the site since August 2011 and has seen nothing but disappointment. Zynga, however, performs very well on Facebook and they have a solid partnership.

But it isn’t just game companies that feel that users are not engaging with their applications, even companies who set up pages on Google Plus hate the site. Companies love setting up pages on Facebook so that people could “Like” their page and follow the messages the companies post. They love getting instant feedback from their customers and conversing with them. It’s a totally different story on Google Plus, though. For example, Intel Corp. has about 360,000 Google Plus followers who are quitter than a mouse – but the company has about 9 million fans on Facebook and you can’t get them to shut up.

Google Plus is a massive failure and its dismal record so far is even more pronounced because the company has a huge stake in its social networking site. That’s because Google is no longer just a place that sends you off to another site as quickly as possible – Google now wants to keep you on their site for as long as possible. Google is now known a “sticky portal”. It’s also one of the biggest reasons why they changed their privacy policy earlier this month. Google is on a mission to combat “the faceless web” (as a Google spokesperson admitted) and this means they want people sharing their personal information on Google Plus. If they could succeed in doing this, they could attract a lot more advertising dollars by selling your personal data. Advertisers love getting personal data so that they can target “personalized” advertisements at you. Google earns over 90% of its revenues from advertising. You are not Google’s customer, you’re Google’s product.

Google is so desperate to make Google Plus a success that they are even warned their employees that 25% of their bonuses would be tied to the success of Google Plus. I guess it’s more sleepless nights for those employees.

Google Plus is not the only failure for the company – Google’s other social networking site named Orkut is also underperforming. Before the launch of Google Plus, the company had Orkut and it used to do quite well in some countries around the world (although the vast majority of Americans never heard of it). Brazil has the fifth largest social networking population in the world and Orkut used to the number one destination for Brazilians – hmm, not anymore. Facebook has had a rapid growth of 192% yearly in Brazil. Facebook is now number one in Brazil, which is an upset for Google because most users of Orkut come from Brazil.

Other failures for Google so far include: Google TV, Google Music, and even its Chrome web browser has fallen recently.

Ah, karma – the beauty of it. Google has truly fallen in the hearts and minds of its users. Its days might truly be numbered.

For more information:

The Wall Street Journal, “The Mounting Minuses at Google+” – click here

MarketWatch, “Google’s arrogance exposed in Google+” – click here

BBC, “Facebook overtakes Google’s Orkut in Brazil – Comscore” – click here

Mashable, “Google Engineer Accidentally Posts Rant About Google+” – click here

PCMag, “Will The Real Google+ Engagement Figures Please Stand Up?” – click here

The Guardian, “Time spent on Google+ dwindles while Pinterest draws growing user interest” – click here

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Lawsuit: Evil Google Don’t Kill Our Cute Pets!

 A large group of people are disappointed, uh, no, actually they are absolutely incensed at Google – so much so that they brought a class action lawsuit against Google. Okay, so here’s what up:

Google is known for acquiring small businesses and startup tech companies they think can become profitable in the future. It’s definitely not the only reason to buy a smaller company – sometimes big corporations buy emerging companies to close them down before they become a real threat later on.

I have written numerous times about how Google is pretty much swimming in cash. They aren’t like most businesses because Google has billions of dollars at their immediate disposal, which comes from advertising revenue. So it’s definitely very easy for Google to produce the cash they need to purchase just about any company they want that is willing to forgo their independence and creative freedom. One of the more well-known acquisitions is the purchase of video-sharing website, YouTube, for over a billion dollars back in 2006 by Google. Some argue that since then, YouTube has become way more interested in making advertisers happy than cultivating the social community atmosphere that was there before Google came along to spoil it.

In the summer of 2010, Google bought another startup tech company called Slide for over $200 million. The company launched back in 2005 and was founded by a man named  Max Levchin, who also co-founded PayPal. The company produced several social applications, including one game called SuperPoke! Pets.

Google is desperate to follow the footsteps of Facebook who has been incredibly successful in social gaming. Facebook has a very important mutually dependent relationship with a company called  Zynga, which produces social gaming exclusively for Facebook. People spend hours playing games on Facebook and it’s a great way to keep people on the website. Zynga earns 93% of its revenue from the games it produces for Facebook. Facebook relies on Zynga for 12% of its revenue, based on the paperwork the company submitted to file its IPO at the start of this month. The 12% is actually quite significant and some think that it’s actually a low figure which does not include all the ads that are generated by Zynga games.

Google wants to have something like this too and has been trying to make to social gaming a big success on its social networking website called Google Plus. However, Google isn’t really having much luck and has wasted its $200 million investment by purchasing Slide. A year after Google bought the company it closed down all but one Slide product. What a waste of cash – but who cares, Google is loaded.

Anyhow, of all the products Google closed down there is one which Google should have never touched. Google’s destruction of SuperPoke! Pets is not to be forgotten any time soon because people who have spent valuable time, energy, and money on the game will not let Google get away with murder.

SuperPoke! Pets allows users to adopt, name, and care for a virtual pet. They get the opportunity to not only care for their virtual pet but they can also interact with other pet owners in the online game community. The game allows people to customize the environment of their pet, dress them up in fancy outfits, and even purchase “gold”. A whole virtual currency system developed and some people took advantage of all it could offer.

So when Google made the announcement last August that it will be closing the game down permanently in the near future, people were infuriated at Google. Users couldn’t comprehend the rationale behind closing down a popular game. There are some people who spent thousands of dollars on the game buying items and “gold”, which has now all gone to waste. They can probably eventually recoup their lost money, but something fervent gamers can never get back is the time and emotional investment they put into their pets. The pets might only exist virtually, but some argue that they still make the same connection and bonding as you would with a real pet animal.

When the announcement was made to axe the game for good, some threatened to take legal action against Google and the media waited to see if they would follow through with that threat. They did.  A group of game users were shopping around for a law firm to represent them and they finally got some help. The case was transferred to federal court in San Jose late last month.

The case is Christalee Abreu V Slide Inc. and Google Inc and this will be watched by many who feel that this could have ramifications for how online currencies work and the whole online gaming industry. The lead plaintiff, Christalee Abreu, says she spent more than a thousand dollars on “gold”. The class action represents thousands of people who also say they spent money and others who say they had VIP subscriptions – they are seeking millions of dollars from Google.

Even if they do end up winning the case and monetary compensation – there will still always be that emotional loss. The social aspects of the game and the valued community will be forever gone. What’s really sad is that this game, according to Dr. John Grohol of Psych Central, appealed to adults, children and handicapped users (who only have a few games limited to them for their use).

We’ll see how things develop with the legal case. Google plans on shutting down the game March 6th, 2012. Good luck to the gamers!

Dr. John Grohol’s article can be read by clicking here

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