Google’s Eric Schmidt admitted that the search giant didn’t concentrate enough effort in the social arena as Facebook grew into a juggernaut of likes, friends, and fans. Schmidt is hoping that Google+ changes that and gives Facebook more competition for a piece of the social pie. Google+ is currently an invitation-only “project” but it is catching some great early buzz. What is Google+ about?
According to the official Google blog announcement for Google+, “Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools. In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it.”
They “aim to fix it” with these core elements: Circles, Instant Upload, Huddle, Sparks, and Hangouts, each of which is designed to facilitate social interaction and networking. Circles, for instance, allows you to group friends and family to make sharing certain information easier. Hangouts allows you to let your friends know you are hanging out online and they should “stop by” and say hi.
Principal analyst at Sterling Market Intelligence, Greg Sterling, says that there is great initial demand for the service, which is currently limited to a small number of invitees. “Some of the people using Google+ are super enthusiastic. Some of their enthusiasm is not exclusively a reaction to the Google+ product but a statement about the desire for a viable alternative.” One alternative that Google+ offers is the ability to have easier private conversations with groups. Facebook’s “group” option is rather limited and clunky at this point, so this is a boon for social media users.
Facebook isn’t sitting idly by. A spokesperson said, in response to the release of Google+, “We’re in the early days of making the Web more social.” They have launched a Skype-Facebook alliance to allow for video chat. But even this is seen as too little by many experts. Google+’s Hangout allows groups to chat, and it’s free. Facebook’s version is one-on-one for now because Skype charges for group chat. It seems Google has the leg up in that respect.
Even though Google+ has had a limited release thus far, it is clear that Google may have finally stumbled upon an effective social solution.