Time spent is a zero sum game. The time I’m going to spend writing this blog post is time I’m not going to spend mowing the lawn, playing with my son or getting familiar with the Annihilation map pack for Call of Duty:Black Ops I purchased a few days ago. We were reminded of this reality last week when MySpace was sold for $35 million after being purchased for $580 million six years ago. This is déjà vu for people who remember Bebo being sold for $10 million by AOL after being purchased for $850 million just two years earlier. In both situations, the culprit for this significant loss of value was the decline in traffic caused by the fact that people were spending more time on more popular social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter.

Facebook and Twitter have virtually sucked all of the air out of the room for social media sites. Facebook is where people go to communicate and share with the people they know in real life. Facebook hasn’t just stolen attention from other social networking sites but from the entire web as people are spending more time on Facebook and less time on the rest of the world wide web. However Facebook missed out on a particular niche which was then capitalized on by Twitter.

Twitter is where people go to be informed by and share information from news makers they care about. For many, Twitter has replaced blogging [and MySpace] as the way to stay connected with people who are interested in what you have to say as a major or minor celebrity. For me, I spend less time writing blog posts or using Google Reader because I’m on Twitter. This has led to many proclaiming that Twitter has killed RSS.

So what does all of this have to do with Google+?

For Google+ to be successful it means people will need to find enough utility in the site that it takes away from their usage of Facebook and Twitter, and perhaps even replaces one of these sites in their daily routine. So far it isn’t clear why any regular person would do this. Having to re-invite all your friends to another social network and have yet another stream to follow & check for responses to your posts is a pain in the ass not a benefit. Twitter got away with it because it actually had value that you couldn’t get from Facebook and by the time Facebook caught up with certain features Twitter was already established in its particular usage niche.

So far the Google+ sales pitch is that it makes it easy for people to share things with private circles of people. This isn’t a terribly differentiating feature. Facebook has multiple features for doing this such as friend lists and groups. Google+ has a snazzier UI for managing lists but snazzy UIs can be copied as CircleHack, built by a Facebook engineer, shows. Even Twitter has protected accounts which provides a drop dead simple way for people to control who they share with without having to manage multiple overlapping lists of people. Google+ will need a better pitch than that to have lasting value.

I’ve been in the industry long enough now to consider people working on Facebook, Google+ and even Twitter as friends or at least acquaintances. It is a little sad to me that for some of my friends to win, others will have to lose. That is life.

Note Now Playing: DJ Khaled - Welcome to My Hood (remix) (featuring Ludacris, T-Pain, Busta Rhymes, Twista, Mavado, Birdman, Ace Hood, Fat Joe, Game, Jadakiss, Bun B, and Waka Flocka)Note