Time to write about Google+ (G+). I was lucky enough to get an early invite and already did some test driving. To sum up my experience: "Facebook in a different skin with some nice add-ons".
I was actually surprised how much G+ looks like Facebook. It almost looks too familiar. Is this is an attempt of Google to create familiarity for Facebook users? Or is Google saying that they don't have a better idea on how a social network can or should look like?
Once you look a little closer though, you can luckily discover some nice differences to Facebook. One key feature of G+ is that you sort your contacts into circles (the sorting is nicely done via drag and drop) and for each status update(stream) you decide who should be able to see it. So much to Zuckerberg's vision that "circles of trust" do not matter. According to him there is always only one you, no matter in which environment. I always disliked the idea.
Another G+ strong point is that it is very easy to export your data (liberate your data) from the G+ settings page. This addresses another complaint many Facebook users had. It seems Google tries to attack Facebook at its weak-points and improve on the areas many people complain about (which is maybe not too bad).
Last but not least, there are hangouts where you can start a video chat with your contacts. This is very nicely implemented, but you need an additional plugin.
Ahh yeah, one more thing - instead of "liking" something I "+1" something. That's nonsense to me. I am not sure whether Facebook has a patent on "like", but to say: "I just have +1'ed something" seems silly.
So where does this all leave me? Personally I won't switch from Facebook to G+. I don't think that I want and can convince my friends to collectively switch to G+. I am tired of social networks anyways and even my Facebook usage reduced considerably recently. Sorry Google - G+ is definitely better than Google Waves (miles better), but unless you have a strategy to move 500 million users over to G+ I just think it's too late. And what about all these companies which only recently invested into Facebook? Surely they won't be jumping on the G+ wagon right now. I guess time will tell ...

Update: It seems G+ really becomes the centerpiece of all Google apps. The latest is that Blogger and Picasa Web could be rebranded as well. Is Google putting all eggs into one basket?

Old comments

2011-07-06Fredrik Rubensson
Hey - you beat me to a social network! I guess they felt that the safe thing to do was facebook copy after the failures with wave and buzz. The only thing that speaks in G+ favour in the long run is integration with many other google things. Groups and docs comes to mind.

I can certainly relate to the feeling of social media fatigue. I don't visit facebook that often nowadays but I keep a steady eye on the twitter stream. But twitter is more crowd sourced news than staying in touch. Almost no non-tech friends are at twitter and if they are they are not using it.

A bit funny also that the simplest social media thing is the one that works best (at least for me....).
2011-07-06Hardy Ferentschik
social media fatigue - great. That's exactly what I have.

On a tangent, I wonder how well Google checked all potential patents Facebook has. I am sure FB is working hard now to find any violations. I would not be surprised if we would here some news in this area shortly. It would be another sad example of where we are at in regards with software patents.