Facebook has caused a worldwide revolution in social media, and Google may have finally developed a similar product that can rival their nemesis. Google’s response to Facebook, Google+, was launched on Tuesday to a select number of people as a “social field test” – meaning Google+ is not in the public beta release stage yet. Plus is the first major launch by Larry Page, Google’s co-founder and new Chief Executive Officer since April.
Google has had prior hiccups entering the social media game with failed products like Google Buzz, Google Orkut, and Google Wave, so it’s no surprise that the search giant’s latest attempt at a social media avenue has generated mixed feelings from its users. Some are receptive of the features offered in the Facebook alternative, most notably the ability to create “Circles” – an easier way to maintain and group contacts. Other features are described by Reuters below:
Google+ will have some obviously-essential features for a social network ? a news component called the Stream, a search/alert component called Sparks which will serve up different results on your interests than a plain vanilla Google search. There is also the ability to share with people who aren’t signed up for the service ? which addresses the problem of opt-in-itis.
But at first blush the most intriguing aspect of Google+ seems to be the granularity with which you can pigeonhole your friends, acquaintances, family, contacts and whomever into the exact right slot in your social web. It’s a seemingly obvious problem to solve and one which Facebook hasn’t, perhaps, because it hasn’t seen the need to ? ?groups? notwithstanding.
Critics, however, are saying that Plus is not differentiated enough from its competition and is basically a replica of Facebook, and not many people are interested in maintaining multiple social media outlets.
One thing is clear though, Google+ is generating a lot of buzz. The VP of Social at Google, Vic Gundotra, posted on Plus, “We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!” While the platform has a loooooooong way to go before it can compete with Facebook, the company claims that Plus is not a Facebook Killer but an overall improvement of the Google experience. Fast Company writes, “Google+ is one element in a much larger strategy the company launched last year to gradually shift all of Google–Search, YouTube, Places, etc—from standalone tools to a set of services that operate much more socially.”
So for now, users who weren’t granted an invite (like myself) can browse Business Insider’s top-to-bottom tour of Google+ and can play around on the Google+ demo site to take a look at the social media site while its still in its infancy.