Google Plus

Well, I obviously wasn’t paying attention.  Google is making another go at trying to break into the social networking market and I didn’t hear about it until launch day.  Of course with as many failed attempts as Google has had, I pretty much stopped bothering to keep track.

I received my invite to try the beta of Google+ yesterday and I dutifully went through the process of setting up an account.  My first impression is slightly higher than that of Google Buzz.  Well, quite a bit higher… but if you saw or tried Buzz then you know that really isn’t saying much.  Despite being an Internet megagiant (they announced 1 billion unique visitors last month), their previous offerings have pretty much all sucked.  Google has a pretty friggin’ big hill to climb if they are going to stand any chance of rivaling Facebook in this arena.  Google+ does have a very Facebook look-and-feel to it, but does have a few nice extensions (multiple feed aggregates based on user groupings, “sparks” or interest-based feeds).  It also has some room for improvement: The security settings seem overly complex and unwieldy.  The biggest shortcoming by FAR is the lack of a public programming API at launch.  The lack of third party apps (like Zynga games) is a huuuuge deterrent for early adopters.

While Google+ is by far the most impressive foray by the company into social networking, I get feeling they to launch this early to try and take the wind out of Facebook’s pre-IPO sails and the first day hype may not be sustainable with the current shortcomings (did I mention no third party apps?).  Another question is what will Facebook do about it: Possible lawsuits over look-and-feel?  Launch new features already in the development pipe?  I think they should move up their IPO and throw that money into adding new features to keep Google backpedaling.  I really don’t like the idea of one, big company owning all my online data.

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