Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Google Plus(+) (Short Take)

This is icon for social networking website. Th...
Google's latest entry in the social networking space is a pretty good indication of just how important social networking has become to a companies bottom line. It remains to be seen how effective it will be. "Google Wave" and "Google Buzz" were their previous attempts. Wave is no longer under development from what I can tell and the site looked a lot like a ghost town when I poked around just now. Buzz is part of GMail but gets no buzz and only occasional use in the circles I run in.

Its safe to say that Google hasn't had very much luck in the social networking realm.

If I'm understanding things correctly the initial rollout of Plus essentially began when the +1 button got added to Google search results a month or so back? I have to be honest here, I hadn't even noticed that option until just now and hadn't heard anything about it. I'm generally reasonably well plugged into the technology and social networking scenes so I'm not sure how that happened. Part of the issue may be that the +1 buttons are small and ghosted out unless you're hovering over a search result. I'm generally in a hurry when doing a search so little details like that are going to escape me and a lot of other people probably.

Using the +1 is a lot like Facebook's "Like". That's pretty much all I know about it. It apparently ties into the Plus service but until I get access I won't have a good understanding of how. Like a lot of other people I've applied to be part of the Beta. Hopefully I'll get in soon.

One thing I really like about Plus is the concept that our "friends" aren't all equal. The argument goes that we have different kinds of friends, some closer than others. Facebook does allow for some granularity in sharing but the mechanism they provide is cumbersome and complex to manage. I pretty much have two groups in Facebook, one I share everything with and one I share nothing with. I'm hoping Plus gets this right.

Some people are claiming that Google has a lot more than just pride at stake here, that the web is increasingly about applications (The cloud) and social interaction (Facebook, etc.). This is an interesting vision but not one I put a lot of credence in. Yes, the web is tending to consolidate. Wikipedia, Facebook, YouTube, NetFlix and a handful of other sites account for a substantial percentage of the traffic but many of those sites are dealing with data that is either ephemeral (How many of you have looked back a year on Facebook, can you even do that?), highly specialized or essentially aggregated.  Microsoft wouldn't be working so hard to gain marketshare if being the worlds search engine was about to become pointless. If Google is looking for growth then yes, the social networking space is important. I don't see them having anything to worry about on the search front for now other than continued competition from Microsoft and others.

If anyone out there has an invite to the beta please let me know, I'd love to take a look and start kicking the tires.

Image via Wikipedia
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