Tuesday, 20 September 2011

Is Google Plus Going Belly Up?

Reports of Google Plus's imminent demise are already buzzing around the blogosphere. Is it true or is Google Plus here to stay?


On February 9, 2010 Google launched Google Buzz, Google's microblogging service. Anyone with a Gmail account was automatically added as a contact to pre-existing Gmail contacts, and had to opt-out if they did not wish to participate.


The launch of Google Buzz as an "opt-out" social network immediately drew criticism for violating user privacy because it automatically allowed Gmail users' contacts to view their other contacts.


Tech and social media bloggers are almost unanimous in their declaration that Google Buzz was a disaster, an accident waiting to happen because it was rolled out too quickly and with little or no concern paid to privacy because it was intended to take the effort out of connecting with other people by automating the service. It's still available and still widely used, according to Quora, but users have switched over to Google Plus for the most part.


What was Buzz and what is Google+?



Intended as a microblogging extension to Gmail, the idea was that people would be able to post status updates, images and videos as they could on Facebook and Twitter.


Google+ integrates social services such as Google Profiles and Google Buzz, and introduces new services Circles, Hangouts, Sparks, and Huddles. Google+ is available as a web site, and will be available as a desktop application, and is already available as a mobile application, but only on the Android and iOS operating systems.



It's not available to Google Apps account holders because Apps does not support profiles.


Pros and cons


Google+ already has a fair few supporters in my own social network, mostly from people who already had Google accounts in the first place.


Pros


1. Google have learned from the Buzz debacle and is rolling it out on an opt-in basis. You have to want it to get it, and until 20th September you needed an invitation from someone who already had an account there. Since they're not springing it on the unsuspecting public there's no outcry when things go wrong, just a heads-up and a call for assistance from a product that is still in beta.


2. It integrates with other Google applications and services including Buzz and Gmail.


3. Its novelty and clever marketing on Google's part have made it popular, and therefore essential in some circles.


4. Groups settings permit closed groups with chat and multimedia sharing.


Cons


1. Membership requires a Gmail account.


2. Membership is not available to users with Google Apps email accounts.


3. Google+ requires members to have and share their profiles.


4. It competes directly with Facebook and Twitter, and would require that users of those websites choose between them and it. No contest there since the other two social media sites are too well established.


Conclusion


As blogger Jonathan Pearson says,


Sure, people jumped on it and loved it for a little while, but in the end, they didn’t really use it to do anything they couldn’t do with what they already had… I didn’t.

In other words, if it ain't broke, don't fix it.

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