There's an amusing story up at The New York Times on the activity surrounding Mark Zuckerberg's Google+ account. Zuckerberg is of course just scoping out the competition. Here's the heartening part:
So far, Google’s new social service has generated positive comments from those with early access, in a turnabout from Google’s earlier attempts to woo the masses with social services like Wave and Buzz, which were met with lackluster responses and concerns over privacy. Stephen Shankland, a writer for the technology news service CNet, said that Circles, a feature that lets people sort their friends into groups for more private sharing, was “the biggest improvement, far and away, over Facebook.” Adam Pash, a blogger at Lifehacker, described the service’s Hangout feature, which lets people video chat with as many as 10 friends simultaneously, as “the best free video chat we’ve seen.” Even Tom Anderson, a co-founder of MySpace who was famous for being every MySpace user’s first “friend,” weighed in on his Google+ page, saying the service “does seem like it could take a bite out of Twitter.” ... “We’re in the early days of making the Web more social, and there are opportunities for innovation everywhere,” said Jonny Thaw, a spokesman for the company.
Remember the "browser wars" of the late 1990s? To a great extent they were a media concoction. They gave rise both to "Netscape Time," and the bloated piece of junk which was the Netscape Communicator of 1998. And yet the competition did push innovation and create a better product for the consumer. This was clear in the early 2000s when Internet Explorer had a de facto monopoly, and the browser and the web went into a period of technological stagnation. The emergence of Firefox woke Microsoft from its slumber, though at this point it might never catch up on the non-mobile web. The newest version of IE is alright, but IE share of the market keeps declining.