I was going to write a pithy title for the article, and to kick it off I wrote “Google Plus is” and sat for a moment to let my brain figure out what was next. Turns out, it’s exactly what I wanted to say.
In case you were on a non-wifi airplane for the last 48 hours, yes, Google has a social network. It’s called Google+, which I think says a lot.
Google Plus is an all out effort. This ain’t Orkut. This ain’t Wave. This is GOOGLE with a freaking ‘+’ sign next to it. They’re aligning this effort at their core brand. If they botch this up, it’ll be a lot more difficult to admit failure and walk away.
Google Plus is missing the “Beta” tag. I’m just saying, I think my gMail account still comes with a Beta tag. Those guys love that tag. From a design perspective, maybe they’ve given up on labeling things as “Beta” and have just finally gotten enough people to believe the mantra: A Google product is never, ever finished.
Google Plus is fast. New updates load quickly, and results are added in to the stream automatically. Perhaps we’ve all grown accustomed to Google results being lightning quick and social networks being sluggish and fragile. These guys have enough infrastructure to keep it humming.
Google Plus is surprisingly devoid of advertising. Sure, you want people to see the “perfect version” of your new product offering, but c’mon Google. Toss some ads in there. Clean and sparse is great – even MySpace was a nice place to go before banner-ad-hell took over. But the question is, how will advertising penetrate the network. Of course the sidebars are ripe for advertising. What about the Stream? Is that fair game?
Google Plus is totally unclear on how it will work with businesses and organizations. I’m surprised that G+ didn’t launch with a business component, or at least an “organization” component. Twitter solves the problem by letting you run amok and start as many accounts as you want. Facebook and LinkedIn solve the problem by having groups, fan pages, org pages, etc. I’m just curious how this functionality will evolve for brand managers, businesses who want followers, etc. Will I be able to add “Apple” in to my “Follow” circle?
Google Plus is missing a Google Search box. Uhm. What? I’ve got “Find people” and “Share what’s new…” but I can’t just initiate a Google search from my page? I’m surprised – I would have hoped for a way to seamlessly integrate the social with the web, especially by blending in +1 recommendations with my search queries. Facebook is making a run at it, I’m curious to see what Google does to amplify social search and social discovery.
Google Plus is not using Sparks well. This was a feature I was excited to see, but it frankly is pretty lame. It’s worse than a saved search, because the results don’t even seem that good (at least on the handful of topics that I tried out). Sparks should be a blend of seeding, associations (through social relevancy), and StumbleUpon. Instead, it’s, uhm, an RSS reader.
Google Plus is setting the tone right with Circles. Finally, the social network that I’d want my Mom to be on! The ability to alter the nature of our relationships has been a long time coming. Even at our SMMOC meetups, we’ve discussed the fact that “Friend” is the wrong word for what Facebook relationships are. Relationships are dynamic, transitory, and complex. Circles at least makes it obvious to do what Facebook’s listing feature does not.
Google Plus is remarkably missing other social network integration. I’m not surprised, but I’m curious to see if this’ll last. Will G+ be a walled garden, or will an API / rules set emerge soon that will play nicely with others?
Google Plus is taking aim as much at Apple as it is at Facebook. This is the official start of round 2 of the iOS vs. Android war.
Apple can’t do social very well. Apple has yet to do social well. Ping is a failure. GameCenter is kinda a joke. But, the next phase is very interesting. iOS 5 introduces a private messaging system that includes basically all the things that Google+’s Huddle does (note to RIM, you guys are a little more hosed today than you were a few days ago, which ain’t saying much…). Apple stated pretty clearly at their iOS 5 introduction that their version of the social / mobile world includes deep integration with Twitter, paired with features that make an ad-hoc social network with any iOS5 device owner.
Google Plus is going to be fun to watch, and we’re all going to benefit from it. Let’s face it. Google’s entry in to the social networking space was a long time coming, and was obviously going to happen. Facebook / LinkedIn / Twitter have been the choices so far. LinkedIn is now public, so it’s in a true dogfight. Facebook and Twitter at least have the ability to stay agile and attack G+ on all fronts. This is good for folks who don’t use / won’t adopt Google+, because the competition will force Facebook and all the other networks to innovate their own solutions. Or die. One or the other. Not sure Google cares much.