Google Plus

In the last 6 years I’ve been working for different companies in Italy as a Marketing Assistant and as a Marketing Manager. The interest in the way people (and companies) communicate and the attempt to understand the impact of technologies on the communication flows dates back to my University years (let’s say 7 to 12 years in the past). This is why in this long period (more than one third of my whole life) I have had an account in almost any web-based social network or social-related feature.

Google Plus makes no exception.

The first time I heard about Google Plus (some three months ago), I didn’t actually heard about “Google Plus”. I read a press release on the Italian magazines and newspapers about 5 new Google web applications aimed at changing forever the way people get in touch: Circles, Hangouts, Sparks, Instant Upload and Huddle. “Great!”, I thought, “Some new items that are quickly going to disappear in the ‘more’ drop-down menu at http://www.google.com”.

Then I tried to gather more information about it and finally the name “Google Plus” came out. I got my invitation from a friend and started to explore the beta. While I was trying to understand how to do things on Google Plus (simple things like adding friends, sending invites, uploading pictures, and so on) there was only one big question in my mind: “Why?”. “Why should I move from Facebook to Google Plus?”. “Why are my tech friends so excited about Google Plus?”. And, most of all, “Why should Google offer people things Facebook already offers, naming them differently and making them more difficult?”.

I really find it difficult to think it profitable for a company to put out a challenge on a widely accepted competitor product on the very same ground. It reminds me somehow of the proliferation of MMORPGs copy-pasted from World of Warcraft that we MMORPG-lovers had to face some years ago. With one main difference: for Google Plus going “free-to-play” is not an option.

There are two major faults that make me feel negative towards Google Plus.

  • Lack of simplicity – Google became the most popular search engine with a white page where the only thing you could do was typing what you were looking for. Google Plus is miles and miles away from this point. This is probably the aspect where Google should have copied more from Facebook, but in the end using Google Plus is quite more difficult than using Facebook when it comes to basic features (sharing photos, adding friends, etc.).
  • Lack of integration with other Google services (reader, documents, etc.) – This is probably the aspect where Google should have taken more advantage from Facebook, since Google is something so huge you don’t even see the end of it. But once again, they failed in this. Why cannot I share with my circles an article I just read in my Google Reader? Why cannot I invite some of my Google Plus contacts to work on a Google Document? Why cannot I share an event in my Google Calendar with the circle I named “Friends”?
Google Plus is still in beta testing, so there’s probably still time to fix and add things, even if the first impression is often very important for these social features that should make your social life easier. I will certainly keep an eye on it while I continue using Facebook for my social web-life … hoping Google Plus will one day become The Social Feature I will finally feel comfortable in!
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