The most impressive announcement at Apple’s event? 67M Game Center users, about 1/3 of all iOS devices sold to date.
Game Center is the latest example of an in situ social network. Fred Wilson posted about in situ content creation – sites where content creation and display occur at the same URL. This concept is much more powerful when applied to social networks or social networks that exist where users live/play/work.
Google Plus reaches 50M users in 88 days. XBox Live has 30M subscribers paying $60 annually. PlayStation Network has 50M users. The growth is no surprise. Google Plus is on every Google Page. Apple’s Game Center appears effortlessly when playing Contre Jour. XBox Live and PSN are core parts of the OS.
Say what you will about the activity on these networks, the distribution of these in situ social networks is impressive. And it’s the reason I believe Google Plus’ success is inevitable. Plus will become the in situ network for Google.com, YouTube, GMail and Android.
Like all social networks, in situ networks have their own culture with unique norms, sharing habits and even languages. Over time, in situ social networks become inextricable from the core product that initially served as their distribution platform. Users are “forced” to use them. It’s a natural part of the experience.
In situ social networks are Facebook’s toughest opponent. Facebook Connect is one way to stem the tide. But these in situ networks are growing quickly and building deep switching costs for their creators.