Google tries social again


Google announced Google+ yesterday, their latest attempt at getting success in the social networking arena.

Techcrunch have a good write up of the details, but for the best coverage, it’s hard to top Steven Levy’s piece in Wired (indeed, Levy’s book on Google is also excellent reading).

Of course, Google have got this wrong before. Their list of misses is at least as long as their list of hits, and especially so in the social space – Buzz and Wave most notably.

Both products, to my mind, would have been more successful had they been marketed as enterprise applications rather than trying to get widespread consumer adoption.

Still, let’s see how Google+ works out. After all, huge numbers of people are using Google several times a day. They ought to be well placed to pick up plenty of users. This ubiquity though could stand in their way, as Tom Coates points out in a tweet:

Fundamentally, Google is a utility. No one wants to hang out at their power company.

However, the team behind this at Google is a strong one. Vic Gundrota and Bradley Horowitz are industry veterans that know their onions, but possibly most important is the role of Andy Hertzfeld.

Hertzfield was on the original team that designed the software for the Apple Macintosh. Several commentators have noted that the Google+ interface seems most un-Google like, full of neat whimsical flourishes and a step away from the traditional Google utilitarian user experience.

Only time will tell if Google+ takes off. The realistic position to take is that it won’t – Facebook is as embedded in this space as Microsoft remains in the office productivity suite area. In both those cases, what will remove the incumbent is not doing something better than them, but doing something entirely different that renders them irrelevant.

I’m not sure that Google+ does that, at least not yet. But I’d advise anyone reading this blog to sign up to the service if you can, have a play and make sure you’re in position in case the market swings in the direction of Google+.