Google takes on social networking giant Facebook with its newly launched Google+.
Google + is the search giant’s latest attempt to break into the social networking realm, which is currently dominated by Facebook whose users spend 700 billion minutes per month on the site. While this project is not yet complete and accessible by invitation only, it has spurred high expectations and big interest. No surprise, China has already banned it.
Charlene Li, founder of Altimeter Group, a social-media advisory firm, says Google+’s goal is not to replace Facebook.
“Key thing here is that going against Facebook directly is suicidal,” says Li. “Google has found a seamless formula with more structure. It really is the plus part. It is extending Google’s communication platforms into a unified sharing platform.”
Li points out that Google has turned messaging into sharing and it has recognized that sharing happens within communities and small groups — with people whom you want to share with. In this sense, Google+ understands that individual contacts in your address book have different contexts and allows you to manage those relationships differently through a simple interface — drag and drop.
Google attempts to make traditionally risky online sharing more personal, selective and most importantly more—private.
By allowing its users to have more control over content sharing, Google believes it offers its users a more personal online sharing that mimics real life. “Online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it,” said Vic Gundotra, Google’s Senior Vice President of Engineering of Google + in the company blog.
Erica Newland, a policy analyst at Center for Democracy and Technology who has had access to Google+ says, “It seems to be a really cool product with brand new services. It is very clear that Google is competing on privacy and that will be appealing to a lot of users.”
While Facebook and other social networking sites are constantly battling privacy issues, Google + offers its users a way to selectively share what you want, to whom you want. A cool new feature, Circles, allow you to create distinct groups for different people in your contacts and through that, a user can also invite respective group members to group video chat, send messages, share photos and search results of your common interests.
One major advantage is that Google+ unifies the different platforms through which people communicate, by using many of Google’s existing products such as Gmail, GChat and others into one place with the people you already know in your contacts.
Many analysts including Newland claim Circles is an innovative way to give users control over who they are sharing with, targeting their messages and the content they share. While Google+ is still an ongoing project, Newland predicts that this feature can make Google+ a viable option for parents concerned about their children being online.
So how much serious competition is Google+ to Facebook. Well, they have already signed up 20 million users in the first 3 weeks!