Friday, July 15, 2011

Google+: Will it Matter?

Image representing Google as depicted in Crunc...Image via CrunchBaseThat's the big question on everyone's mind right now. Google launched their new social networking application earlier this month and it has been quite the buzz around the web. 10 million users and 1 billion objects shared in just a couple of short weeks. Quite impressive. But will it stick? Is this simply the 'latest, greatest fad' or does it the potential to shift the social networking landscape? I'm becoming more and more convinced it has traction.

First, let's look at what the folks at Google did. They essentially took the best of the industries leading social networking tools (Facebook and Twitter) and created a tool that also solves some of the privacy concerns from FB users. Google+ users have the capability of following anyone in the world, just like Twitter. I can follow Shaquille O'Neal, Ashton Kutcher (think he will be the first to one million in his circles?) or Joe from next door without any approval required on their end. This replicates the functionality of Twitter where I feel 'connected' to these people and see their updates, no matter how ridiculous they may be.

But, they didn't stop there. Unlike Twitter, I'm not limited to 140 characters, as a matter of fact - I'm not limited to characters. I can now share anything / everything with those in my circles. Ah the circles...what a great concept. I can now share information that is relevant and of value to each of my friends, without sending them updates that they don't care about. I have (so far) created a circles for friends, work, family and sports. My plan, at the moment, is to focus items that are related to educational technology towards my work circle, posts centered around sports to those who I know are sports fiends and then all others to my friends. I'm sure I will tweak this over the coming days / weeks, but it feels like a good start.

Google kept on pushing. They created hangouts. Hangouts are virtual spots utilizing audio and video where people can talk, chat, laugh, etc. I was speaking to co-worker yesterday who said the high school students she knows who are utilizing Google+ are raving about Hangouts. They love it. Nice job Google - you may have hit a homerun with this piece.

Big questions that leave me hanging at the moment:

  • How can I easily access and update via my mobile device? (Specially my iPhone)
  • I need a single easy-to-use application or web-based tool that allows me to update all of my social networking places (FB, Twitter and Google+) with one post. Where is it? TweetDeck was what I was utilizing and I want to see that integration.
  • Will Google+ have a place in education? My thoughts are with a future integration with Google Apps, it is quite possible.
Back to my original question. Will it Matter? Is Google+ just the latest MySpace (ouch, I used a bad word...sorry), or does it have the potential to rattle the cages of Twitter and Facebook. Time will tell and the more users who make their over to Google+ and check out its features, the more we move towards relevance. Google has a nice start, a great product and some innovative features that are going to push FB and Twitter to regroup and get off the gravy train. I love it when competition brings out the best of innovation. Keep it coming.

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