Google Plus – The next Wave ?
I have been testing Google + for two weeks now. It is now time to blog.
I have a profound respect for Google and its products (or at least most of them). However I think it is legitimate to wonder about a future success (or fail) of Google +. It is the third attempt of the company in the social media area, widely dominated by Facebook. The two first (Wave and Buzz) failed pretty quickly, remember ?
May 2009 – the world discovers Google Wave at Google I/O. A great technical demonstration: everybody remember the drag and drop files from the desktop directly in the web browser. Following the announcement and the presentation, the web was all excited about this new service, a lot of people were talking about Wave as the new e-mail (they were somehow right because at first the intention of Google was to replace the e-mail protocol with this new one).
September 2009 – Google officially launched Wave based on an invitation system (like Gmail). I remembered getting one pretty quicly and sending a tweet to propose the 5 remaining invitations I had. It was given away in 15 minutes.
October 2009 - nobody was talking about Wave any more. And in December 2010 Google announced that end of 2011 they will stop the support of wave.google.com due to the lack of adoption by the public. The project is now called Wave in a Box and has become a server based product developed by the Apache Software Foundation.
Almost the same happened for Google Buzz.
But history apparently is not repeating, I think Google + had a way better start than the 2 others (As of today, more than 10 millions users already).
The product itself is well thinked, the UI is great (thanks Andy Hertzfeld for the circles). A clean news feed, no advertising or notifications coming from applications, it goes straight to the point. The newsfeed contains the essential information, you can easily switch from the feed of your friends to the one of people you are following. You also have a better control over the information (See privacy issue below): you can disable resharing, comments on what you post, comments can be edited, . . .
Integration with Google products
The direct integration with most of the google products is certainly a major advantage for the new born social network: once you have logged in with your google account, the notifications appear on the top bar, which was not the case for Google Buzz. Since a lot of people already use the google tools (Gmail especially with more than 150 millions users) it gives a direct and huge exposure. Your Google profile is directly integrated into Google plus, you can start fast on the social network. Picasa, Google Maps, Google Chat, . . . also integrated.
Google apparently has learned from the mistakes of Buzz. The privacy issue that has encountered Facebook for the last 3/4 years should not happened on Google Plus, the circles allow an easy management of the information rules and access. Drag and drop the people in the right circle, depending on your relations with them: easy, really intuitive and fast. It allows you to follow people like Larry Page for their news while being in touch closely with your friends.
And more: Hangout for group videos, Sparks as a recommendation engine, Huddle for group texting.
So with all those features why Google Plus would fail ? Maybe because everybody is already on Facebook. . .
That is without a doubt the biggest threat. In fact I don’t believe that G+ is disruptive enough to make people quit Facebook, at least for the moment. However a certain number of people will have both, just like most of the people on Twitter are also on Facebook.
Google is working on new features, and especially social gaming: they invested between 100 and 200 millions in Zynga (FarmVille, Mafia Wars, . . )beginning of July. How disruptive will this be?