Yesterday Google launched their much-rumored push into the social networking space: The Google+ Project. I was interviewed by ABC5‘s Katie Eastman (video embed below) about the new network and how it stacks up to the main competition – Facebook.
Here are a couple of quick takeaways and initial reactions to Google+:
No friend requests. Unlike Facebook, Google+ doesn’t require mutual friendship acceptance. Users can subscribe to each other’s updates without defining one another as a friend (similar to Twitter), thereby removing some of the initial social navigation barriers, drama and decision-making. Note: Google+ users still have complete control over how their profiles appear, down to specific individuals.
Small groups. Google+ has baked a feature called Huddle into the network, which lets you create small groups of colleagues or friends to interact with. We’re seeing an explosion of group messaging apps right now, and Facebook’s recent acquisition of Beluga proves that the major players want to have a presence in that space. Beluga is something we find quite useful here at Lava Row (we have a Beluga “pod” for our work group and one with a client team). Facebook has not yet integrated Beluga into it’s standard messaging system, so it appears that Google has beat them to it with Huddle – at least in terms of layering it on top of existing products.
Where will the users come from? The biggest challenge is 750 million+ active Facebook users that “live” in that ecosystem every day. Google will need to focus on user overlap (similar to the symbiotic relationship between Twitter and Facebook) because there’s no way to shift that many people overnight. Integrating Google+ with popular, existing products such as Gmail will also be key.
So what are your thoughts on Google+? The company has been stumbled of late with their Buzz and Wave products, but they’ve been quietly succeeding outside of North America with Orkut. Please leave your comments below.
ABOVE: Video of the ABC5 interview with Nathan T. Wright. Watch for the Shane Reiser man-hug at the end!