Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Seven Days with Google +

The Google+ introduction is a major tectonic shift in the social software landscape. Its aftershocks will be felt for some time to come

I received my invitation to join Google + last Wednesday evening from @ITSinsider.  It was a bit of a surprise.  I had just heard of the launch a day or two earlier.

Since then, it's been a daily party like I have not seen with any other SNS (social networking service) launch.  We had heard something about Google's Social Circles back during SXSWi, but the launch turned out to be just a rumor of what was to come just four months later.

iPhone in browser mode
My first take will be a little different from most because my time with G+ has been almost exclusively on an iPhone 4 or iPad 2.  Of the 15 or so hours I've been on G+, only about 15 minutes or so have been on a PC.  Even though the product is optimized for the full PC / Mac OS or Android mobile OS.  I must admit, even with its many flaws, the iOS experience is good enough to keep me coming back.

Here are my first impressions.

Central to the User Experience is the circle concept.  We all socialize in various circles. Google+ has made that literally the metaphor.  G+ daily offers me up to 500 invitations to add to my circles.  If the person is not yet in G+, they will get an invitation.  If they are already in, they join into my circles and I begin following and sharing with them.  (Be patient, G+ is still throttling invitations.)

Since I have not use the PC version with a webcam, I'm missing out on Hangouts - multipoint video chats.  That will come in time. I expect very good value for work groups and enterprise applications of this feature.  I also expect integration with Apple products with the forward facing camera (ala multi user FaceTime). With the recent introduction of Apple's FaceTime and now Google's new Hangout feature, perhaps personal video conferencing will finally reach the tipping point to general adoption.

I'm also excited about the ease of adoption.  Google+ has quickly added most of my social graph to their SNS and the conversations are quickly turning to real substance other than just discussing Google+ itself.

So what are my takeaways so far?
iPad in Desktop Mode
1. This is going to be big.  Google+ has scaled very quickly showing robust, well thought out features. It works easily on many platforms, combines access on any device to central cloud storage, performs well, and has already attracted the necessary early adopters.

2. This will evolve quickly.  Google is known for quick iterative innovations and promises constant upgrades and introduction of new features.  They also appear to be leveraging many of their various products without any sign of internal power struggles that will derail progress.

3. Facebook and Twitter have a real competitor now. Most early comments have been that Facebook should be scared, but little has been said about Twitter also being in Google's sights.  With the recent announcements of tight integration between Twitter and Apple's iOS, it looks like the Google+/Android camp is stacking up as a good alternative.  It might even be a three way race if the rumored Facebook / Skype entry materializes.  Anyway, like Facebook, Twitter has been acting monopolistically as of late (terms of service, acquisitions, apathy to partners)  It is good to see a product come along that offers a viable alternative.
iPad in Mobile Mode

4. Enterprise 2.o is in the game plan for Google+.  All the talk about Consumer and Facebook should not hide the fact that Google+ coupled with Google Apps will offer a powerful platform for enterprise collaboration, eating away at the SMB market first and later moving up the food chain to the Fortune 500 market.  E2.0 stalwarts such as Jive Software, Socialcast, Yammer, IBM Connections, and, to a lesser extent, SharePoint will see Google+ providing a new alternative in the young and growing Enterprise 2.0 collaboration market space.

That's my first look.  So much more can be said, but there will be plenty of time for that in the future.  The Google+ introduction is a major tectonic shift in the social software landscape.  Its aftershocks will be felt for some time to come.  So find me on Google+ http://gplus.to/jimworth  and let's continue the conversation.  I look forward to adding you to my new Circle of Friends.


  1. And I look forward to a private tutorial from my friend, Jim Worth. Good write up bro.

  2. I still see authentication as Google's biggest barrier to enterprises. If they figure out how to tie into a corporate directory without giving up privacy of corporate data, then I agree they have a shot. But this has been the case for more than 2 yrs already.

  3. i see G+ has a threat to Twitter and to enterprise Social platforms more than to the public Facebook platform.

  4. Jim, thanks for your insights.. I'm hoping to free up some time to add my comments, too! So far, I think Google Circles is a powerful metaphor that could be simple enough for astute users to use extensively; Facebook Friend Lists was too abstract, and very few people knew how to use it. The circle is ancient, visceral and understandable.

  5. Jim,

    Thanks for the write up.

    Do you think the limited availability it helping on hindering them at the moment?

    I feel as though making it somewhat exclusive - e.g. you only get in if someone you know invites you - is giving Google+ an added level of desirability.