If you don’t have at least one social network that you religiously log in to, you must be living under a rock. Everyone has either a Facebook or Twitter account, to say the least, each of the networks used to keep in contact with family, friends, business partners, acquaintances or anyone at all. People log in to these sites to keep track of what’s happening with their friends, or to let everyone know what’s happening with them. Status updates and tweets change faster than news headlines. With all of these networking sites, do we really need another one?
Google thinks we do. This week Google unveiled Google+ – a new social networking service with a twist. Google+ features Circles, Sparks, Sandbox, Instant upload, Huddle and Hangouts which separates them quite a bit from other social networking sites. The downside is, just like Gmail, Google+ is slowly being introduced to the public, by invitation only.
“It’s not about one particular project, it’s about Google getting better. We know this is going to take us a considerable amount of time. But we want to make Google better by connecting you with your relationships and interests,” Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior Vice President of Social, reiterates. He declined to state how big the team within Google currently working on the project is, but says that it’s a “decent sized team.”
So with this surprise hitting the social network scene, and with a clear effort for Google to incorporate yet another string of social features to its search and Apps tools, what have the major competitors been up to? Earlier this month Microsoft released an upgrade to Bing search; it now has a “Share on Facebook” feature. It’s similar to the Facebook integration Twitter added back in 2009. With the launch of Google+ you’d think that Facebook would be on their toes trying to come up with something better but they’re not (and they may not need to). With regular updates to their social graph, and a steady understanding of relational algorithms, Facebook is focusing on adding to our interactions, with a distinct focus on the gaming and virtual goods sectors, among other things.
Try as they may, Google cannot deny the fact that Google+ is another social act. They may tweak it’s features, but it still ultimately serves the same purpose–to connect people.
“Today’s web is about people. To organize the world’s data, you have to understand people.” Gundotra concludes.
This project may be the best they’ve demonstrated to date, but with their bad luck regarding their previous attempts at social networking (remember Buzz and Wave? Neither do we), people are a bit skeptic.