There are now more than 40 million people using Google+ and those numbers continue to climb. This comes despite the fact the social media service is considered severely lacking by people who want to create a presence for their business or brand. There are also some questions about the complete integration of Google+ with other Google services such as Google Apps. If you have a Gmail account, you have a Google+ account, but ifyou try to log in to Google+ with your Google Apps account info, you’ll be snubbed.
Granted, Google+ has made great strides in integrating all its many features, even if they do have some areas of opportunity. They have freely admitted they never expected to see this level of interest from users after just a few short months. The unexpected interest has caused them to look as if they are falling behind, but in actuality, if their engineers are to be believed, they are moving faster than they had anticipated.
In the meantime Facebook continues to re-invent itself, rolling out new social sharing features and a dramatically new profile page for all users. Facebook is miles ahead of Google+ when it comes a better integrated social media experience, but they still face harsh criticism for allowing too much automatic sharing, forcing users to opt-out of sharing, instead of making it all “opt-in.”
Combined, Facebook and Google+ are two powerful social media forces coming together in how we experience the social web. You can expect more changes as the race between the two giants heats up. For now, Facebook has a definite lead, but Google+ is quickly gaining ground.
Brin took a personal interest in the development of Google+, although he said he was “not a terribly social person” and had never been engaged in using other social networks, other than as professional experimentation. He said he initially argued with the design of the Google Circles feature because “I thought it was too complicated, but now I love it, and I have dozens of circles.”
Battelle asked about a remark by former Facebook president Sean Parker, in another Web 2.0 interview, that Google+ would have a hard time overcoming the network effect achieved by Facebook.
“The point Sean made is right, that the incumbent has a huge advantage,” Gundotra said. “If you play the same game, that’s a hard game to win. We’re going to play a different game.” His strategy will be to make Google+ a social layer on top of everything Google offers.” What we’ve seen so far is just the “plus” part, but in the coming months the rest of Google will come to bear on the product, he said. Google also has a better opportunity than any other company to attract users to a new social network because so many are already users of other Google services.
Gundotra said one thing Google will not imitate is the new Facebook Open Graph frictionless sharing, where some news and music applications now automatically share links to the content you access through them.
“We think there is a reason why every thought in your head does not come out of your mouth,” he said. “I don’t want the world to know that I’m embarrassed I like that one Britney Spears song. I want the world to know that I like U2.” Google will stick to a more deliberate model for sharing.
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