When I disparaged Google’s announcement of the “+1” button in March, it seemed like an orphaned idea that some lofty Gaggler was duped into pushing live. Now, in the context of the newly revealed Google+, it makes more sense. Google’s new entry into social networking seems promising, and I’m hopeful that they have learned from the mistakes of the dearly departed Wave and Buzz.
I’ve spent some time meandering through the new service, and must admit it’s clean and effective. This new initiative for better design has been reflected across many of Google’s other key web services recently. What I find interesting though is that I don’t see any ads. There’s no question of whether Google will integrate ads into Google+, only when and where. But if I were them, as an observer of recent outrages over Twitter’s trend bar fiasco, I’d start the ads sooner rather than later.
If Google+ had the same network of people that I’m connected with on Facebook, I would abandon the purveyor of Farmville and Mafia Wars quite readily. It’s not without overcoming some hurdles that Google will win over the vast hordes of Facebook though. I think the prime difficulty will be planting a foothold in the mobile space. I’m not talking about making an iPhone app. Google says that’s coming soon, and unless it’s built by a crack team of meerkats, it couldn’t be worse than the Facebook app.
What they need is third party app integration. There are thousands upon thousands of mobile apps for Android and iPhone happily integrating with Facebook and Twitter, and approximately zero integrated with Google+. In fact just yesterday Twitter announced it’s one millionth registered app. I haven’t heard or seen anything about a Google+ API yet, but they have a long way to go to catch up with one million apps.
A lot of people are talking about the security issues of letting Google host all your “private data”. I skirt the privacy concerns because, as an adult, I have already assumed the responsibility of restricting the content that I share across various internet services. If you’re posting anything online that you consider to be “private data”, you probably don’t have a good grasp of reality. If you haven’t duly considered the ramifications of what you share online, perhaps you should keep off your Facebooks, Twitters, and Tumblrs until you do. For example, a bad post: “My mother’s maiden name is Bigglesworth and my first pet was named Snuffles! This is a fun game! Would you like to know what city I was born in?”
Bottom line, Google+ is positioned to be a worthy competitor to Facebook, but it’s still far too early to call the game.