Google finally unveiled another big chunk of its social project, and judging by the initial feedback from early adopters, it’s hardly going to be another crashed Wave. It’s not surprising to see Google taking this step, as it desperately needed a social layer to add to their search powerhouse.
However, for once there are good chances early adopters aren’t gonna be wrong in believing in this project. First of all, Google has got a whole lot of mistakes to learn from, both from their own side (Buzz, Wave) and from their main competitor, Facebook. Judging by how they tackled privacy with their Circles implementation, it seems like this lesson has been very well learnt.
Several more considerations to make:
On Google’s Defense
- The design of Plus is much, much slicker than Facebook’s. What I mean is, it looks like something made efficiently from the ground-up rather than something adapted and upgraded from an earlier design;
- It’s a lot more privacy-friendly. It includes a feature like Data Liberation that’s aimed to people who really want to be on top of their private information. And Circles are a real killer feature, allowing you to perfectly segment what you share on the platform, and with whom;
- It’s built on a SEO infrastructure. That’s one of the major advantages over Facebook, everything that’s shared and “+1′d” on Google Plus will have added weight on their search engine result pages, expanding the simple “+1″ button feature that was released some months ago. They basically built a self-sustaining system in a single go.
- Its asynchronous approach reminds me of Twitter, you can just add someone to a Circle without the need for them to do the same, rather than a binary “friend/not friend” a la Facebook. Not everyone is a close friend, he can simply be someone you know from some forum community, or someone you simply want to follow. It’s a much more granular system and it just works;
On Facebook’s Defense
- Three words: massive user base. Facebook’s critical mass is long surpassed, and it’s not easy to attack something so huge, Google or not, especially because people, at this point, are just too used – or addicted? – to it. On the other side, if someone has a chance it’s Google;
- Facebook has got loads of partners, just think about the gaming sphere. Hundreds of millions of people play on Facebook daily, they won’t just swap to Google if they have to change their entertaining habits too much. They will have to address this, but talks of a gaming platform are already going. It’s just a beta still, after all;
- They have incredible amounts of money, and with incredible amounts of money you can react kinda fast. Especially the Circles feature can be implemented very fast simply because Facebook already has friends lists, they are just much more obscure and less user-friendly to use;
Plus could be the last way for anyone to tackle Facebook’s domain simply because if people will stop using it, they’ll flock back to Facebook more skeptical than before. They’ll hardly trust another potential competitor. I am not saying Facebook will crumple like a sand castle, it’s very very very much unlikely, but the long-term bleeding is nothing new in the history of social media (Myspace anyone?).
The future is bound to be kinda exciting.