Google+ is the search giant’s latest social venture. There’s been a lot of negative reaction to Google’s past social ventures.
Google Wave was cast into the dustbin of history largely because of a lack of mass adoption – there was little actually wrong with it. Ditto Google Buzz. Perhaps with Google+, Google has created something which demonstrates that they have been lisening and learning all along. Google+ is currently on limited release, by invitation only.
The following section will present five arguments against and for Google+ success.
- It’s Google – Wave and buzz sank without trace. Perhaps Google’s very size and dominance makes people uneasy of committing intimate social data to it?
- Facebook – Facebook has a tenth of the global population signed up, a very large mountain to climb if Google+ is to be considered a success. Will making the switch to Google+ from Facebook be worth the hassle of disentangling an existing online social life?
- Is it ‘cool’? Facebook managed to pull off the rare trick of appearing ‘cool’, a halo that hangs about it still and fostered in no small part to smart PR moves like the recent film. Google+ comes across as a top-down, mega corporate response to an organic, street level social phenomena.
- Overload! I have a Twitter profile, a Facebook profile, a LinkedIn profile, a Tumblr profile, Formspring, Quora, Plaxo . . . . name it, I’m probably on it. If you’re reading this, the chances are we are connected in some way as a result of these profiles. Maintaining these distinct profiles, often used for different styles of interacting, takes time. Disentangling them and re-inventing them within the confines of Google+ ‘circles’ – or degrees of separation and distinction – sounds like a real headache.
- Missed the boat? I struggled to sign-up yesterday . . . I’ll leave you to guess whether I succeeded! The service will not be made live to the world for some time yet. Whilst this appearance of exclusivity is good, it also risks missing the boat by giving people time to reconsider it’s utility for them . . . as you probably are in reading this.
So, let’s now consider why Google+ might just work. There are reasons for it to succeed. Google+ is a bold venture and, for the first time, brings almost everything Google Labs have ever created into the grasp of a mass audience, seamlessly.
- Easy – It is simple and easy to use, as a host of commentators have noted. In addition, thinking about the way you communicate with people, and how, enables you to organise your social circle accordingly with Google+. Usability expertise and design have worked in concert to deliver Google+.
- Learning – Google seemed to have learned from the myriad ways that Facebook has enabled people to communicate, from ‘Likes’ to tagging, blogs, writing on walls, geotagging etc. Google+ has embraced the Facebook features but also added many of it’s own.
- Features – Profile and especially ‘circles’ enable you to group your contacts and communicate with them as one or with distinct messages. Stream and sparks enable you to consume your ‘feed’ as it comes or to ‘spark’ it with interests and in particular, communicate with like-minded friends on those ‘sparks’ . . . hangouts and huddles take this further, you can have video chats or IM style conversations with up to four people simultaneously. Finally, there will be a full cloud based photo sharing facility for Android and iOS users . . .
- With more than 100 Google services being tweaked and refined in order to visually and functionally integrate with Google+ this is starting to look like a wholesale rebrand of Google itself. The giant awakes.
- Necessity – The way we all use digital technology has changed massively in little over a decade, from fixedDesktop PCs to smartphones, location marketing, QR codes . . . social networking and more. Google has observed this closely. To survive Google knows that it must adapt. Perhaps it’s dominance in search, video content (YouTube) and online advertising can now finally be locked in with a plethora of services and functionalities which offer almost infinite level of customisation and distinction for users?
I’m not saying I’m right about any of this. These are impressions arrived at after reading up, seeing demos and using Google+. Like all impressions they are liable to change over time and with experience.
Let me know what you think.