Groups – Google vs. Facebook vs. (Notewave, Brizzly, Fridge)

Small rant attached – though it’s over groups which I’ve been thinking about for years

Facebook groups launched a short while ago, I’ve been using Google Groups for ages (along with Y!Groups).  Brizzly launced their groups product (though they didn’t call it groups) TheFridge has their view and Notewave (my own weekend project) has it’s view.  Groups is a necessary space, so much so there are fields of “mom-and-pop” startups doing it around pictures, sports teams, etc, etc.

Fundamentally I want Facebook to win — ok not really, but yes I do.  I wouldn’t mind if Google would give them a run for the money, but they appear to be going backwards.  I just received an email that says “were’ removing features from Groups — use other services”.  This really sucks google.

Long ago when I was at Yahoo I wanted to re-work groups, since the phylosophy was for groups of more than 500 people it didn’t work for “small” groups effectively, some ways Google didn’t either — but it was a trade off…

Here’s my necessary feature list, comparison matrix:

Feature Yahoo Google Facebook Notewave/Brizzly/Fridge
Mailing list Yes Yes Yes Yes
Calendar Yes No No No
Events Sort of No Yes No
Shared Docs No Going Away Yes No
Photos as 1st class No No Yes Yes
Privacy Yes Yes Yes Yes
Able to invite non-friends by email by email No by email
Public Facing Yes Yes Yes No

What most services fail to realize is that if they can nail groups of 20 people (soccer team, etc.) That they will become more much indispensable to people, sure I need groups for lots of anonymous people on the Internet (I’m a member of too many), but if you think that’s the core businss of groups you’ve missed one primary use case everybody has (their Friends/Associates). I’m not friends with my soccer team parents, but I want a group with them in it (Facebook fail).

Facebook — If you can fix a few little issues with groups you will rule my world:

  • Have a calendar — sync it via iCal to my phone/google
  • Allow me to invite people via email address

That’s it, then I’m yours… Don’t get caught up in “Databases”, “Poll” or other crufty features.