Yesterday, Google revealed their new social network. ‘Plus’ or is it ‘+’, i’m not quite sure and that’s one black mark against it, the name. It doesn’t make any sense. ‘+1’ i get… that’s essentially Google’s ‘like’ button… but ‘plus’ or ‘+’ as a social network? I don’t get it…
Tables have turned
This reminds me a bit of Microsoft’s ‘Bing’. In this case Google are Microsoft and Facebook are Google. How many of you use Bing as you primary search engine? Rhetorical question. The majority of you don’t, the stats show that… is there room for Bing? Sure. It’ll survive, it’s a decent alternative… but in order for Bing to overtake Google, they’ll to get more and more people to switch from what they know best. That’s the hardest thing in the world to do. Breaking habits… do Google need to get people to switch from Facebook to Google+? Well, not really…
Google are now competing in a space where they’re the underdog. They don’t do that too often… can they win? I don’t think they can compete with Facebook as a social network, but i do think there is a need for a ‘collaboration network’.
The one thing Google must do from the off is differentiate themselves from Facebook. Why would i use Plus to talk to my friends above Facebook? That’s the question Google need to answer and so far, i think they’re doing a decent job. They’re not branding themselves as a social network. In fact on their demo page, i couldn’t find the word ‘social’ anywhere. Is that deliberate? You bet it is. They have features called ‘hangouts’, ‘circles’, ‘huddle’… so they’re immediately trying to get away from being labelled a Facebook clone in my opinion, which is of course a smart move.
Do i think it will work?
For me, Google’s most valuable social feature (up until now) was Google Docs. I know the average user probably doesn’t use it, but they will in time because it’s the only way to easily collaborate online when drawing up documentation, presentations etc… between multiple users. That’s the way education is heading and i’m jealous of students starting out today mainly because Google Docs saves so much time and provides so much value when working in groups.
That’s where i see Google Plus cashing in – the sort of college / work / ‘a bit more formal than facebook’ place where you can actually communicate with people and get work done as opposed to playing farmville and liking pages like ‘That Moment of joy when you see your food coming in a restaurant‘. So in that sense, i can see Google+ working, and working very well. Google Wave aimed to do something similar but was too far ahead of it’s time and didn’t get enough people on board to take off. With a social network (that’s what the media are calling it), users will sign up just to see what the fuss is about. The masses won’t use it, because it’ll be too formal, but enough people will use to avoid it becoming a flop like Google Wave – that’s my opinion.