The much rumored social network from Google was launched yesterday to mixed response, but using their exclusive beta approach it seems likely people will be drawn to it initially.
Given the product has only been shown to a handful of people and not in its entirety, a true review isn't possible. But you can be sure Google is monitoring reactions.
Google has tried entering in to the social space before with Wave and Buzz, but both failed to reach the scale Google expects from its products. This new venture appears to come from a better perspective – though given it is launching in stages, the true depth of the service has yet to be tested or even seen.
Nobody is calling this a Facebook killer. Many are less than thrilled with the Google+ name. It also seems that the relationships between your friends that you import in to Google+ don't have any relationship information – who knows who etc. isn't there.
The diversity of reaction can be seen by the Tweets below:
- Oh, Google. Another f***ing social network? Invitation only? No thanks. Three-time losers don't get another try.
- google's new social network, gottasay, looks more useful than facebook.
- I haven't even got an invite for your LAST social network yet, Google.
- Facebook, please copy Google+ drag and drop social circles. I hate your friend lists and groups.
- Look out Facebook...Google is revolutionizing the whole idea of sharing.
- Do we really need *another* social network base? Even if it's better, not enuf incentive
- Even lamer than Google+ is the fawning, approval-seeking tone that many use in describing it. That's the cost of early access? No thanks.
- Wrapping head around Google's Facebook-y Google+. Looks like a lot of cool ideas in here
As the New York Times notes the battle is for the most popular entry point on the web. Facebook had 157.2 million visitors in May, while Google had 180 million (YouTube included). The visitors information at Facebook is not available to Google at this time.
And while many reports have looked at what will be offered, the New York Times went a little deeper in to the reasons for this grab at social. Speaking to its two project managers – Bradley Horowitz and Vic Gundotra - the focus seemed to be about the increased information this project provides to advertisers. Google obviously watched as Facebook struggled at first to find monetization avenues and seem to have that covered:
"Mr. Gundotra and Mr. Horowitz said that knowing more about individual Google users will improve all Google products, including ads, search, YouTube and maps, because Google will learn what people like and eventually be able to personalize those products."
Steven Levy at Wired, who spent a year with the team, shareds an interesting insight. There is a mural at the entrance of the secured floor where the project was developed. It is a scene of a massive tidal wave about to overpower a fishing boat.
If the Googlers involved saw the boat as Facebook, their inspiration could turn out to capture another event – the lowly users, fishing on the web for information and friends, who are overwhelmed by all that is needed to make Google's social network work.
Social networking has fast become the future of the web. If Google is to become more than just the Internet's library, it needs to adapt to this.
As Gundotra admits to Wired, this was a bet-the-company project. "I don't know how you can look at it any other way."
The service is only available as a "field trial" to a very limited number of people and appears may stay in beta with more people being added and using the Gmail method allowing those to invite others, creating some hype and desire for access. Given this is a social networking service they may want to rethink that - it only succeeds if the numbers come and holding out access over any significant time could give Facebook time to counter the attack.
We will have to wait and see if people are willing to do the work needed to make this system work. At the moment I think they would get a C+, given no one can get at it.