The ‘Buzz’ Around Google+
This week, Google announced that it would be taking another crack at the world of social networking with its latest effort, Google+. While you’re probably asking yourself, “didn’t Google already try this with ‘Google Buzz’? And whatever happened to Orkut?,” none of these have been implemented to the level that Google+ has.
While these previous concepts were relatively half-baked, unsure of what type of platform they wanted to be, Google+ has been in development for over a year and has been one of the hardest pushes by current CEO Larry Page to shuck its missteps of the past, and to be Google’s foot in the social media door. And while some of the concepts of Google+ may seem familiar (Facebook, Skype, and Twitter-centric features), Google touts that these are performed better than their competitors.
Google’s Crack At Social
While Google looks to somewhat replicate the formula that Facebook has (and why not, given the site’s success), there are a few key aspects that Google hopes will set theirs apart. While the aspect of a newsfeed exists (called a “Stream” here), Google adds additional features that they hope will dethrone the current kings.
Most notably, Google looks to make special note of their version’s increased privacy – a blunder they experienced firsthand with ‘Buzz’ – with their implementation of ‘Circles’. As opposed to sharing anything and everything you post on the site, a la Facebook, ‘Circles’ makes it so you can arrange your contacts into specified groups, referencing them as Friends, Family, Colleagues, etc. With Google+, those photos of raucous partying or your “sick” day from work will only be seen by who you choose to share it with.
If for some reason you find the things your friends are posting at the moment to be less than interesting, there’s always ‘Sparks’ to keep you entertained. A glorified RSS feed, the stream filters in content that you deem to be interested in, keeping you updated on the most recent content that matters to you.
And for those of us with extreme separation anxiety, Google has ‘Hangouts,’ so whenever you and your friends are together online you’re only a click away before your together, face-to-face, catching up right where you left off.
Where’s the Business in all of Google’s new business?
While the service is still in its infancy (the beta has gone out to only a select few), many are speculating that businesses will come into play relatively soon. Most likely to be introduced through the ‘Sparks’ function, where items of interest to you will be peppered with updates from businesses of a similar mindset, might then provide you the option of connecting with that brand.
One of the key advantages that Google has over Facebook is its wealth of existing services, such as GMail and YouTube, not to mention its dominance of online search that has a solidified core group of users that’ll surely be ushered into the ‘Plus’ program.
The muted introduction of Google+ hints at further advancement and additions in the area of branding services far beyond our, or Facebook’s for that matter, wildest imaginations.