Addicted to Google+
I haven’t been blogging that much of late, what with Fantasy Sci-Fi League 3.0 over on Galactic Watercooler and “summer vacation” (two weeks off), it’s been a struggle to find the time for it. Another time vampire has been Google+, the now three-week-old social network from the House of G.
While G+ isn’t as full-featured as Facebook or as fast-and-fun as Twitter, it shows promise. Circles, the flagship feature, allows you to control the distribution of your information and posts to your various levels of friends.
Because it’s still in beta, there isn’t a whole lot to do on G+ because there aren’t that many people on it yet. However, I predict that the upcoming San Diego Comic Con will help G+ expand. The 2007 South By Southwest (SXSW) festival is widely recognized as the “tipping point” for Twitter’s popularity. As much as online social networks connect users over the web, their viability depends on connecting people in “meatspace” as well. Facebook’s rapid growth in its early stages was predicated on users who attended the same colleges, knew each other from classes, or lived together in dorms. In other words, without a real-world connection to bring disparate users together, social networks are unlikely to become successful.
With SDCC approaching this weekend, it will be interesting to see how Google uses the largest geek gathering in the country to build its user base. In my opinion, Comic Con represents an amazing opportunity for G+ to prove its mettle. With all those tech-savvy people in one place, something is bound to happen.
Many have touted G+ as Google’s “Facebook-killer,” but I think there’s another way to look at. In my mind, Facebook isn’t Google’s target: it’s Apple. Many features on G+ seem geared for mobile use, and rightly so, since it’s its the first social network of the smartphone generation. As Google+ and the Android OS develop, they are sure to become increasingly intertwined. It isn’t a big jump to conclude that Google intends for them to fully integrated in the future. When you purchase an Android phone, you sign it with your Google+ account (Google already does this G-Mail) and it imports your friends and settings from G+. G+ won’t be an app on Android, it will be part of Android. Since Apple doesn’t have it’s own social network, the best the iPhone will be able to offer is a G+ app, if one even exists. I believe that the delayed release of a G+ app for iPhone was intentional, as was the release of Google Music Beta to muscle in on iTunes. Google is sending a message to Apple: you’re next.