The launch of Google Plus on 29th June, 2011 brought a revolution in the blogosphere, even though not in the intended social networking world. Bloggers, techies, and social networks all across the world frantically started asking for invites, in the meantime going through the demo videos and blogging/discussing on FB. Those who could lay their hands on invites were impressed, or at least showed so on Facebook, Twitter, Yammer, Blogspot, WordPress, and what not. Google worshippers turned into Google Plus evangelists, providing free service.
Everyone was curious and everybody tried to be a part of it all. HBO made the quick buck showing The Social Network at least once a week. All the popular blogs published a series of posts on Google’s latest product and the competitors and the competition. Hundreds of sites mushroomed up around Google Plus, enhancing the Plussing experience for those who don’t mind installing Chrome extensions or revealing credentials to unknown sites.
The G+ team has been really busy the past two months; there were 10 major feature additions in July, and 20 in August, averaging one every two days! A floating Google+ bar, integration with Google Translate, Google+ Games, and sharing to any circles from any sites via the +1 button are a few notable changes.
Sixty days later (okay, 63 to be precise, I rounded it off), I’ve 162 people in my 14 circles–only 11 of which are (techie) celebs. 130 people have circled me, out of which I have not reciprocated to 20 people. Oh yeah this is complex, I had to use a Venn-diagram to find out I have 118 FB-style friends. Anyway, the point is, only a few of these people have been sharing stuff and following my shares.
Most of the shares are reshares from Google+ celebs, or jokes about the diminution of FB, or tips and tricks or stats about Google+. Or a link shared at both Facebook and Twitter. Most of the content is reproduced from other networking sites. An average Plusser does not share photos here, and does not post that arbitrary status update.
When I have 500+ updates everyday from my 361 FB friends, the 162 people I am following on G+ update hardly 10 posts, out of which 8 are from Sergey Brinn/Bradley Horowitz/Kelly Ellis/Vic Gundotra. Facebook feels like home. Google+ still feels alien; it does not look friendly.
So Google+ 60 days != Facebook. The inequation may never turn into an equation even if the addendum to the left variable becomes 2 years or 5 years. Even 10.
It is because there is an already existing following of Facebook which will never completely die. Even though this is much different that email, an analogy can be drawn between people still sticking on to Yahoo mail and Hotmail(~300 million users each), even though Gmail(170 million) is more talked about and discussed than its older sisters. The risk to FB comes from the new generation social-networkers, and Google takes care of that with the illusion of elitism it provides by allowing access only through invites. And this pseudo-elitist attitude works with newbies. But it dampens the spirits of a hardened FB user because they might have to move their friends along. Curiosity did help a few registrations, but how long do they stay is yet to be seen. Over a period of time, say a couple years or so, both of these may have a symbiotic existence.
Google + is an excellent product. A brilliantly planned, and well developed web-app, with a striking UX and great features, that has the potential to take social networking to the next level. But, Google has learnt that from other networks over the past few years. (The older ones are leaning from Google+ anyway; see, symbiosis) And that is what the weak point is–the timing.
Google was late by at least half a decade.
What’s your opinion?
[Guest article by Ashutosh Saxena.]
Also Read: Is Google Plus Overhyped?