But no-one so far has suggested that Google+ will be the proverbial “Facebook killer’. And nor should they. We have no idea how the mass market will respond to Google+, especially since there’s no agreement among early adopters yet.
Still, at least in terms of ideas, Google+ is very interesting – innovative, even. In fact, the ideas are so surprisingly good, I think Facebook has a reason to worry – if, of course, they decide not to steal those ideas for themselves.
Here are five things that may keep Zuckerberg from sleeping well at night.
Circles solves the sharing (and privacy) problem
The big problem with social sharing online these days is that everyone’s online network is diverse. For me, some of my web friends are into gaming, others books, while there are lots into tech, food or any other number of things, and they’ don’t often overlap.
Inevitably, you want to share things with certain people. Often, your friends really into cooking don’t want to hear about you building a computer, or maybe you simply want to share certain things with people your closer to, but not everyone. By making creating groups easy, Google+ makes a step toward making this kind of issue far easier to deal with, allowing you to share certain things with certain people.
More to the point, given Facebook’s numerous screw-ups with privacy, Google are looking to improve their own image on that front. Circles certainly seems like a good start, especially when compared to Facebook.
Bringing social to video
Hangouts is Google’s way to integrate group video chat, which in and of itself, is neat but not revolutionary.
But a less-discussed feature is the ability to watch YouTube video with your group still there on their webcams. If Google were, for example, to cut a deal with Netflix or another video provider, groups of people could watch TV shows and movies together, something that could provide a compelling reason to use the site.
It’s also a sign that Google is thinking about how to integrate online video and social experience in real-time, something that no-one has done very effectively yet.
Google already has a huge mobile headstart
Part of social networking success is obviously mobile. The simple fact that Google can bake their social approach directly into Android is a huge advantage, particularly because they can customize the OS to take full advantage of (and prioritize) Google+ over Twitter and Facebook.
That means that instead of slightly lame looking Facebook phones, Android could have another major selling point: fully integrated social networking at the level of the OS. That’s a seriously compelling feature.
It’s more open
“Open” when it comes to Google is always a loaded term. But by turning Google+ into something more like a layer atop your browsing experience, it seems Google are going less for the Facebook walled garden and more for something that follows you around the web.
That may have some serious downsides. We’ll have to see. But as an approach or an idea, it certainly seems more forward-thinking that constantly having click over to Facebook to see what’s going on and share things with your contacts.
Google are serious this time
More than anything though, this isn’t another half-hearted attempt at social like Buzz or Wave. As Techcrunch pointed out, even the name is significant – this is Google plus, not some sub brand of something Google does. The organization is all in on this one. Despite their failures in the past, that’s a big deal. And certainly reason for Facebook to worry.