Can Google+ Succeed Merely By Being Not Facebook?

from the it's-possible dept

Like many folks, I've been playing around a bit with the latest attempt by Google to offer "social networking" features, Google Plus. Given the underwhelming performance of Orkut, Buzz, Wave and other attempts -- combined with the inability to do anything useful with the purchased companies Jaiku and Dodgeball -- I really didn't expect much. However, after playing around with it a bit, I have to admit that my first reaction, like some others', is that it's surprisingly well done. I can't quite explain why or how, but it feels like Facebook, without everything that makes Facebook feel clunky. Not surprisingly, xkcd sums it up best:
While it makes for a good joke, I actually think there may be something to this. While tons of people spend a ridiculous amount of time on Facebook, the company has always given off something of a Micrsoftian-vibe, in that it has no fear of being "evil," just so long as it dominates. While some people disagree, Google has tended to give off the opposite vibe. It often succeeds because of choices to be less "evil." Just offering a working social network that "isn't Facebook," that just feels easy to use and comfortable may actually be compelling enough.

The current key difference with Google+ is in the "Circles" functionality, which better lets you compartmentalize who you're sharing with. Rather than sharing with all your "friends," Google lets you classify them into different groups, and makes it easy to choose who sees what. It's one of those features that makes you wonder why Facebook never offered it. It also has a funky "hangout" feature, that basically makes video conferencing quite simple and convenient. Some, of course, will complain about yet another centralized social networking service, but as Rick Falkvinge points out, that really doesn't matter to most people. And, to Google's credit, it makes it abundantly clear within Google+ that you can export your data and delete your account at any time. In fact, the delete button is so easy to find, I got nervous that I'd accidentally click it (though, I'm guessing there's a confirmation step somewhere).

That said, there are obviously still lots of challenges. Actually getting people to use the service is a big one (especially while Google is still trying its increasingly tiresome "you need an invite" launch method). Separately, I'm curious to see how well this plays with others. Will developers be able to build apps for it? How will those work? Will other services be able to integrate? The first thing I did was look to see if I could feed my Twitter feeds and Techdirt blog posts into my profile, but I couldn't figure out a way to do either (the tools may be there, but I couldn't find them). And, just in general, I think plenty of people feel a level of fatigue around the idea of starting up with another social network (even if Google makes it easy). I could definitely see Google+ not getting the kind of traction it really needs. But, I will say, that unlike some of its other attempts (especially Wave), my initial impression was that this is something worth playing with some more, and it's something I could see myself using regularly. And, to be honest, a part of that is just the feeling that it's not Facebook.


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    Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:23am

    A little addition

    I went poking around to see if I could find a "request invite" button and found this. Apparently there were so many people getting invites that they had to shut down the invite system. I think that may be a sign that getting people to join isn't going to be that big of a problem for Google.

    And if someone could send me an invite when the system is back up, that would be super.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:40am

      Re: A little addition

      I think that may be a sign that getting people to join isn't going to be that big of a problem for Google.

      True, but there was a tonne of buzz around Wave (no pun intended) and people were scrambling for those invites - but it still never took off.

       

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        Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:06pm

        Re: Re: A little addition

        Well, yes, but I've never seen Google be unable to handle a sudden burst of traffic. That would suggest to me that more people are trying to join then Wave or even Gmail.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

          Re: Re: Re: A little addition

          Could be. But frankly I'm a little unconvinced by the "sudden burst of traffic" excuse. This launch is Google's last attempt at social - they weren't about to let it flounder because of too few server resources. If they ran out of space, it's probably because they planned to.

           

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            Hephaestus (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:56pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re: A little addition

            "But frankly I'm a little unconvinced by the "sudden burst of traffic" excuse."

            Google+ is in public beta. They have done things like this before with other apps and services. Expect them to open G+ up in a month or so.

             

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          Hephaestus (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:52pm

          Re: Re: Re: A little addition

          Actually google is devoting some n% of their resources to the public beta. They hit that n% rather quickly. The things they need are the ability to create apps, the ability to import my facebook account and fiends, the ability to show me what people in each circle actually sees. I do really like Google+ as it stands but this is the just the beginning.

          Truth be told facebook is like Lotus Notes, it does everything, but it does nothing really well.

           

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      The Infamous Joe (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 7:48am

      Re: A little addition

      I will need an email for you. I couldn't find it on your blog.

       

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    You need an invite is the ultimate artificial scarcity. Why are you so upset about creating scarcity?

     

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      David Liu (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:44am

      Re:

      Because a social network needs a critical mass before it can take off. Making invites scarce seems like a dumb move when you need takers.

       

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        Designerfx (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:00am

        Re: Re:

        not when everybody wants them.

        http://phandroid.com/2011/06/29/will-google-win-and-do-you-have-a-google-invite/

        look at the results of the surveys here, for example. While a small subset of people it's pretty clear how that group feels about it.

         

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          Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:04am

          Re: Re: Re:

          Yeah there's something to be said for the "exclusivity" angle when generating buzz around something. But I have some doubts about that survey - 3,000 votes on a blog for Android phone enthusiasts is probably not the most representative sample. Especially not when we're talking about competng Facebook - a website whose growth comes from the fact that it has been adopted by millions of otherwise-computer-illiterate people.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 1:35pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Consider that that's phandroid, not exactly the least biased subset of the population.

           

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        CommonSense (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

        Re: Re:

        You don't mass release the beta version of a new device, why should they need to open this beta version up to everyone??

         

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 1:28pm

        Re: Re:

        Seems more to me like they're trying to keep their severs dedicated to it from getting bogged down, keying people wonder is better for business than giving them a slow service which will only serve to frustrate users...

         

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:56am

      Re:

      Who's upset? It just seems like a bad move because (and apparently you have misunderstood this) artificial scarcity is not a good thing

      The often-discussed Techdirt philosophy is to give away the infinite goods and to sell the scarce ones instead of creating artificial scarcity...

       

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        Mijestic (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 10:17am

        Re: Re:

        It just seems like a bad move because (and apparently you have misunderstood this) artificial scarcity is not a good thing

        Marcus.. that artificial scarcity is exactly what made FB so popular to begin with.
        Google is trying to add the 'cool' factor to the launch of Google+. They have succeeded so far.

         

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      ComputerAddict (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:03am

      Re:

      Closing invites was not an ARTIFICIAL scarcity. It was a physical Scarcity.. Their servers literally could not keep up with demand. While we often talk about the cloud and web being able to grow infinitely, sometimes it does take people to plug in more servers, load up their OS's and software to meet demand.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:06am

        Re: Re:

        Closing invites was not an ARTIFICIAL scarcity. It was a physical Scarcity.

        I highly doubt this. Google is not going to back out of their plans because of a lack of server resources - it's freaking Google. You can bet they launched with a clear idea of their resources, the number of invites, the expected response, and their timeline for all of it. If they really could not "keep up with demand" then I'm fairly certain it was by design, not by mistake.

        Essentially, if Google had wanted to launch with no invites and free registration for all, they could have.

         

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          ComputerAddict (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:12am

          Re: Re: Re:

          just because they have massive amounts of servers does not mean that the correct BETA edition software is loaded on all of them. Google themselves described it as "insane demand" I bet they we not really ready. It'd be interesting to know what their user base was before and after this "insane demand"

           

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          Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:22am

          Re: Re: Re:

          I guess they don't want their platform to get as crappy as Facebook and Twitter.

          "There was an error posting your update. Please wait a moment and try again."

          Fuuuu.

           

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:03pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          Do you understand what a beta test is?

          It's for the purpose of testing your new application or service with a small number of people to find bugs, test infrastructure, etc.

          Why would Google who wants to try and become the next Facebook launch their product to the masses without external testing first?

           

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            Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:08pm

            Re: Re: Re: Re:

            Right. Fine. No problem.

            Like I said, I just don't believe that they shut off invitations because of some sort of unexpected surge in signups that they weren't prepared to handle. It's clearly intentional. That's what I'm saying.

             

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              Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:22pm

              Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

              I'm sorry, but I find it ridiculous that you say this was clearly intentional. Do you have any way to back that up or is it you're personally offended about not getting an invite? I'm honestly not trying to be a dick, I just don't think you understand how traditional beta testing works.

               

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                Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:32pm

                Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                Lol. I am not bitter. I wouldn't even be checking it out until after the long weekend anyway.

                Traditional beta testing works with a fixed or somewhat flexible number of invites. That's not the issue here. Google has blocked existing invites with the excuse that they can't handle the demand. That's what I find hard to believe.

                Do you honestly believe that Google "accidentally" ran out of server resources on a product launch this important?

                 

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                  Chronno S. Trigger (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 1:22pm

                  Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                  It may not be as malicious as you make it sound. There are quite a few server resources outside of RAM, drive space, or bandwidth that could be taking them down. It may be a "resource" that's not physical. Maybe they wanted to keep it to only a couple of thousand initially so they could keep a better eye on things. With the failure of the last three, I can see them underestimating the requests.

                  Granted, it may be that they want it to look like it's grown bigger then it really has. I admit that I didn't care nearly as much about it until I read that they stopped accepting new users due to overload.

                   

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                    Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 2:28pm

                    Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                    I'm really not saying it's "malicious" - I'm not even sure if I think it's a bad strategy.

                    I really want to clarify this because a lot of people obviously disagree with me (and I in no way claim to be sure) but all I am saying is this: I really don't buy that they unexpectedly ran out of server resources.

                    This is Google we are talking about! Managing server resources is a massive part of what they do. They own, if not the most, then surely near to the most server farms and bandwidth of any company on the planet.

                    So really, that's the only thing I'm not totally buying - the idea that Google was caught off guard in any way. Your explanation that they are intentionally keeping it to a smaller audience so they can monitor it makes more sense to me. Other than that I'm not really trying to make any strong point at all.

                     

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                      Lauriel (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:37pm

                      Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re: Re:

                      Reading the link Chronno provided, it does seem to be a beta testing limitation. From what the article implies, Google sent out invites to selected people to be beta testers. Then, those people were asked to add people to their accounts, thus increasing the number of beta testers, and creating networks. It was this demand that was unexpected - which also sounds like the original invitees were impressed.

                       

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    David Liu (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    I don't know about Google+. It seems kind of desperate on the part of Google. We've seen it's past attempts at social networking fail, and Google just never seemed like a place where you'd "want to hang out". Facebook, for all its evilness, still at least has a "cool hangout" vibe too it.

    Google (or at least its front page) has become increasingly irrelevant as a place to stay. If I had to categorize it, it would be like an office. You go to it to get what you need done. You leave as soon as you're finished.

    Google has a ways to go before it can even convince me to look at its demo.

     

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      Mike42 (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:07am

      Re:

      They don't have to convince you. They just have to convince one of your friends, family, or (better yet) your significant other.

      You fool! Did you think you were in charge of your life?

       

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      CommonSense (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:20pm

      Re:

      I totally disagree. I have my iGoogle homepage set up quite nicely, and I hang out there a lot to be honest. I have my Techdirt feed, slashdot in case anything interesting flows through there, ESPN, BBC, EFF, and Reuters Oddly enough for when I'm bored.

      I don't have facebook anymore, to me, it became too much like a mall. Too many annoying schoolchildren making noise that doesn't add anything of value to anything. I'm not an old man, I just know that my time is too valuable to listen to garbage just for the sake of listening to garbage. To me, Facebook lost that "Cool hangout" vibe a long long time ago...

       

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        Lauriel (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:32pm

        Re: Re:

        I also love my iGoolge page. For the first time I'm interested (and maybe a little excited) about any form of Google social media.

        I really like the circle options, from what I've heard. Not many of my friends share ALL of my interests, and to be able to converse with a subset is something I've wanted from facebook for a long while.

        When they do open it completely to the public, I'm at least interested enough to sign up and play around with it for a while.

         

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    sehlat (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:43am

    What did Facebook expect?

    As Gary North pointed out over a year ago, Facebook's major hope of making money is monetizing their users' information. And the scandals started rolling in...

     

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      John Doe, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:53am

      Re: What did Facebook expect?

      Exactly. Facebook opens up every new service they create and leave you know even know about it and then go dig around to turn off the sharing. I hate Facebook but it is the best social network going right now. If Google figures out how to do it better and people show up, I would delete my FB account in a heartbeat.

      Google might have the edge on FB for monetization too. They already have a huge ad network so they don't need to open up your privacy like FB does.

       

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        Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:05pm

        Re: Re: What did Facebook expect?

        Google + IS better than Facebook as a product. Much better, much faster, and with some really cool features. So far demand for invites has been overwhelming. People are posting their e-mail addresses in comments on blog sites and on Twitter. It's crazy.

         

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          John Doe, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:17pm

          Re: Re: Re: What did Facebook expect?

          I have felt for a while now that Facebook could be in for a spectacular collapse. It may not happen, but it could.

           

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        Will Cowan, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 5:14pm

        Re: Re: What did Facebook expect?

        > I would delete my FB account in a heartbeat.

        If only it was that easy.

         

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    A Dan (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:53am

    Facebook does offer it

    "Rather than sharing with all your "friends," Google lets you classify them into different groups, and makes it easy to choose who sees what. It's one of those features that makes you wonder why Facebook never offered it."

    Facebook does have that. I have a group specifically for people from work and a group that's specifically family, so I can share old family photos with just family, for example. Maybe Google+ makes it more obvious, but Facebook does have this.

     

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      Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:59am

      Re: Facebook does offer it

      Yeah, you're right. For whatever reason, Facebook has always had trouble getting people to adopt things like Groups and Lists for their friends - Google seems to be putting it way more front-and-centre from what I can see. It will be interesting to see if more people make use of it.

       

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        Hulser (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:22am

        Re: Re: Facebook does offer it

        For whatever reason, Facebook has always had trouble getting people to adopt things like Groups and Lists for their friends

        For me, the reason was obvious. Facebook flat out made it difficult to create and use groups. Maybe you figured it out so that it would be useful or maybe they've made it easier since the last time I tried, but I recall trying to set up a group a while back and eventually asking myself why was something that should be so simple, so hard?

        I'm not sure where I picked this up, but I seem to recall one of Zuckerberg's driving principles for Facebook was openness. Everybody should share everything. While this may have worked at the beginning to get people onto the site, I think that this "principle" lies at the room of a lot of the privacy concerns people have with Facebook. So, if Google can take the lessons learned from Facebook and address one of its bigness weaknesses (privacy and controlling one's own online persona), then they're on their way to success.

        Also, I don't see the transition from Facebook to another service being that big a deal. As long as my close circle of friends have accounts -- i.e. the people who post updates that I actually want to read about rather than ones about someone I knew in highschool eating a ham sandwich today with mustard instead of mayo -- then I could see myself using the service.

         

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          A Dan (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 2:24pm

          Re: Re: Re: Facebook does offer it

          Friends (on the left) -> Manage Friend List (at the top) -> Create a List

          When they added it, it was easy. Then it was hard for a while. Now it's easy again.

           

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      IshmaelDS (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:04am

      Re: Facebook does offer it

      I was going to post the same thing. I have groups for different subject matter, like religious debates that I know make some people uncomfortable, tech talk that makes others eyes glaze over, etc. I have hope for Google+ and would love an invite as I'm a current user of Buzz(though not many of my friends use it) and was hoping that it would take off as I go there all the time to check my mail anyway.

       

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      Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:08am

      Re: Facebook does offer it

      And when one of your buddies posts pictures and brags of your recent drunken exploits to your wall, all your "friends" in all your groups get to see it.

       

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      Ragaboo (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:12pm

      Re: Facebook does offer it

      Exactly. For all of the privacy concerns people have regarding Facebook, and all of the credit Google is getting for Circles ... Facebook did that a loooong while ago. Maybe they didn't publicize it enough, but I have tons of groups, all with different permissions. I have Facebook groups for people I don't know (I used to be semi-famous in a very small niche on the Internet, so I get randos), people who I trust with anything and everything, people who get offended by anti-religious humor, people who like to talk politics, and so forth. So, yeah ... you're wrong on this one, Mike, unless I'm missing something.

       

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    Luke, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 10:58am

    Finally!

    I have been wanting to delete my FB account for about 6 months now. The problem was there wasnt a alternative network to get my family set up with. I have high hopes for G+ and cant wait to get my invite.

     

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      Stuart, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:10pm

      Re: Finally!

      I deleted mine long ago.
      There is an alternative.
      Call, Text, go See a person.
      Have coffee, lunch, or a drink.
      In other words the alternative to social networking is actually being social.

       

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        Marcus Carab (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 2:32pm

        Re: Re: Finally!

        That depends on if you think that online socializing is not "real" socializing.

        I get it. I still feel the divide. Others I know feel an even bigger divide. But others - especially people who have had the internet around for their whole lives - seem genuinely confused by the notion that using facebook would be considered anything other than socializing.

        Not long ago, phone calls weren't considered "real" socializing. Very VERY recently, texting was not considered real socializing (and still isn't by many many people). How can you draw a line in the sand where you got comfortable? The world continues to change.

         

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:08am

    "Can Google+ Succeed Merely By Being Not Facebook?"

    Nope.

    The Social network bubble is about to burst anyway. Google might be able to survive because they are so massive, but people are already leaving Facebook by the truckloads. Like someone said, it's just a fad. Bring on the next big thing.

     

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    MrWilson, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:10am

    I'm all in for Google+ as soon as I get my invite. I've been looking for a Facebook competitor and unfortunately the buzz around smaller projects like Diaspora were just teases due to the length of the development cycle.

    Watching the demo videos, Google+ does a lot of the stuff that I've wanted Facebook to do (or do better) and it's by a company I trust a lot more than Facebook. Considering how much I use other Google products, it will likely interface more easily with my digital life than Facebook ever did.

    Unfortunately, Google is a little slow sometimes with releasing a good Android app for its services, but when it finally does, the app is better than most of the third-party apps that came out first to fill the gap.

    Best of all, I've never given Google a dime of my own money. That's using "free as a part of a business model" FTW.

    People reference Google Wave as a failed social network, but I never got the impression it was an attempt at creating a social network. It was collaborative software, which it actually did well. I used it for a few projects with coworkers and it was great for tracking decision-making and project version history.

     

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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:17am

    I'm getting + notifications at the top bar of my Gmail and on Google.com now.

    Somehow I can actually see this one succeeding somehow, as opposed to Buzz, Wave, etc.

     

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      Gwiz (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:25am

      Re:

      I'm getting + notifications at the top bar of my Gmail and on Google.com now.

      Is that why Google now has that ugly ass black banner at the top of the page? I thought something was wrong with my monitor.

       

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        Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:29am

        Re: Re:

        Could be both ;-)

        But yeah, that's why.

         

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          Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:43pm

          Re: Re: Re:

          So THAT'S it. I just figured Google had just decided to randomly make their site even more annoying. Again.
          I guess this also explains those stupid-looking "+1" buttons that appeared next to every single search result the other day, but are inexplicably gone now.

          Normally I'd just use www.google.com/custom so I don't have to look at all that meaningless garbage, but it's been giving me "automated query" errors for days now.

           

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    Bas Grasmayer (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:19am

    Also Google does something that Facebook hasn't been able to:

    Google makes people think carefully about sharing something to specific people instead of the whole world.

    Facebook makes people think carefully about sharing something with the whole world instead of specific people.

    And we all know which of these two tactics Facebook has had its eye on for ages now.

     

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    Danny, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:43am

    While it sounds like a good starting point...

    ...its going to take more than "we aren't facebook" to sustain Google+. Claiming to be the (insert leading brand) killer is not enough to take down said leading brand. I'm reminded of a comic I saw a few weeks ago showing an iPhone and another phone coming up claiming to be the iPhone killer. Well then second comes up making the same claim, and another, and another, etc. Then all the iPhone killers start fighting amongst themselves, all the while the iPhone just whistles as it walks away...

     

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    Miff (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:44am

    I like my anonymity, does Google+ mean I have to verify my identity on my Gmail accounts or risk having them being deleted? ;_;

     

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    Overcast (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 11:55am

    I admit, I'm interested. Facebook lost my trust with their little games on the privacy front.

     

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    Joe Publius (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:03pm

    I admit FB that's not FB is still not likely to draw me in. Every time I think about social networking, I think of some kind of chore where you feel obligated to put stuff up for its own sake.

    I know, it's my baggage, but in the end, I've lived a happier life knowing that I've never felt forced to interact with people because of some smartphone or website poking me at all hours.

     

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      BeeAitch (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 10:42am

      Re:

      This is exactly how I feel about social networking. I have never had a FB account, and said I never will. However, increasingly it seems employers, possible project collaborators, and others seem to require one. I feel I can trust Google more than FB, so this service may be the one that finally drags me, kicking and screaming, into the social web. Grrr...

       

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    Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:25pm

    Google's Fourth?

    So we had Google's Orkut, Wave, Buzz and now Google+.

    Will they make it a success this time?

     

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      jackn, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 12:37pm

      Re: Google's Fourth?

      probably not. Without the artificial scarcity, maybe, but they are missing the media bump. If I can't have it now, I'll pass.

       

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        Marcel de Jong (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 2:33pm

        Re: Re: Google's Fourth?

        Well I don't care much about any kind of social networks.

        Twitter is basically shouting into a desert full of other shouting people.

        Facebook creeps into your life, reads your letters and looks in your drawers to see if you have something interesting in there for their advertisers.

        Myspace is pretty much a music portal now.

        Friendster only limited popularity.

        Same with Orkut.

        I don't see how Google's Google+ or even Diaspora are going to bring to the table that makes it actually relevant.

         

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    Hephaestus (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 1:16pm

    The things I hate about facebook ...

    It took all my yahoo email addresses and imported them, that wasn't a problem, the emailing 2,000 people invites was. Everything facebook does is about increasing its userbase not about giving its users a better experiece.

    Everything that should be simple in facebook and one click takes digging through level upon level of crap. Its not intuitive. I think this is where google+ is going to win.

    Farmville, Mafia wars, Would You Sleep With Me, etc ... ick ... I see these moving over to google after apps are allowed.

     

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    Davey, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 1:19pm

    Seems like a good shot.

    If Google can offer a more open, less rapacious alternative to Facebook, I'd say they have an excellent shot. They have the resources and smarts to make something that works as well or better without the burden of being Facebook.

    The article and comments all seem to assume that their only way forward would be to convert Facebook users to their new offering. Facebook users are still a small minority of computer users. There's a huge uncommitted market of folks who might be interested in what Google Plus has to offer without the well-placed fear of privacy invasion, out-of-control spam and scam, information selling, and all the other impressions that keep people away from Facebook.

    If I were Google I'd sell this as just another Google service you can trust. You don't have to talk about it being another Facebook, because Facebook users don't have to be the market.

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 2:03pm

    Google Buzz

    After the fiasco that was the Google Buzz launch, I'm actually pretty excited to see that they're doing this as opt in instead of opt out. Looks like someone learned their damned lesson.

     

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    Chris in Utah (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 3:18pm

    Wow this is the first time the old is new again. Anybody heard of a WebRing?

     

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    ShellMG, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 4:49pm

    I've been pushing Google+ buttons for about an hour. The clean interface is nice and the privacy controls are very specific -- I don't feel like I'm constantly running around playing "Whack-a-Mole" trying to keep them in line. I've only got a couple of friends there at the moment, but the lack of ads is a welcome change.

     

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    Nick Coghlan (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 6:44pm

    Thoughts on Google+

    Like many others, I've been playing with Google+ for a day or so now and think it has definite potential.

    The reason Circles differs from FB friend Lists is that Google have made Circles central to the entire experience. Yes, FB has had Lists for a long time, but they've always been an optional extra that most people ignore. G+, by contrast, gives people 4 Circles by default (Friends, Family, Acquaintances, Following), makes it easy to create new ones, and provides a nice, oddly *fun* interface for managing them. The *only* way to connect with someone is to add them to at least one of your circles (like Lists, the details of the circles themselves are private, but you can choose to share the aggregate information as to who is in your circles).

    They still have some kinks to work out in the way the privacy settings, sharing and circles interact, but what they have now is an *excellent* starting point in helping users to feel in control of who can see what they post (and doing so in a way that is more straightforward and integrated than the FB Lists experience).

    They also make it easy to list your non-G+ using friends for your own benefit, so you can automatically connect with them if they join up, as well as easily passing information along to them directly via email when that is appropriate (although again, here, some of the defaults need tweaking to avoid inadvertent spamming by inexperienced users).

    As to why they shut invites down, my assumption is that it is the feedback system that was dying rather than G+ itself. I never noticed any problems at all with the actual site, but the feedback tool was definitely struggling at times (and, of course, dealing with all that feedback is ultimately constrained by the number of *people* Google have available for the task rather than anything to do with how many servers they can through at the problem of allowing people to accept it).

     

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    Anonymous Coward, Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:01pm

    Needing an invite is already putting a lot of people off to it. Google needs to launch it immediately or stfu.

     

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      Nick Coghlan (profile), Jun 30th, 2011 @ 8:26pm

      Re:

      It isn't ready for general use, since the privacy model doesn't quite work right as yet and it is really easy to accidentally spam your friends with email updates.

      If they released it to the general public as it stands right now, they'd just have another Buzz fiasco on their hands.

       

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      Lauriel (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 7:15am

      Re:

      I'm sure it's happened before, but it isn't that usual for a beta testing period to decrease demand, unless the product is a steaming pile of dog business. A beta testing period getting as much positive feedback as this is usually a good sign, and usually increases demand, rather than the opposite.

       

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    ThatAVGuy (profile), Jul 1st, 2011 @ 3:20am

    There was an invite Loophole

    I had a friend posting on FB yesterday adding as many people as he could to G+ through an exploit loophole. Which got shut later in the day - Wouldn't suprise me if they ended up with more people than expected

    I am looking forward to trying out G+ - FB is slow, cluncky and far to open for my liking. I would be more interested in a desentralized social network, but currently there's not one that I know of that has enough of a userbase to look into

     

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