What’s google up to?

Why is it that google can’t figure out how to launch a new product? They’ve just launched google+ (stupid name) which bears more than a little resemblance to Facebook, but with – supposedly – a better privacy setup. Not that that would be hard, as Facebook don’t even pretend to be concerned with privacy, and do everything they can to take a little more away each time they change something.

But this launch! First of, it’s "restricted". Well, maybe it’s just me, but the ability to test a social network that won’t let people join is kinda limited. In fact, think I’ve got about five people I’ve linked to. Seriously, how can it be tested when I’m linking to five people, spread across multiple timezones around the globe?

Second, they have opened up the invites a couple of times, but then have almost immediately closed them, leading to a LOT of very annoyed people who didn’t get in after google said invites were open. Nice way to build goodwill when you’re building a network designed to take on one with an installed userbase of over half-a-billion users.

Thirdly, they haven’t thought out the naming conventions at all – the whole "google+" thing, and the "+1" is all over the shop, as it works differently in different contexts.

It brings back (horrific) memories of when they launched ‘Wave’ – I’d explain to you what that was about, but nobody on earth seems to know. So along with no defined explanation or mission statement, it also had to contend with the same stupidity we see here – hardly anyone was allowed in, so therefore almost nobody was using it, and those who were had hardly anyone to interact with. They’ve since ditched it. #epicfail.

TBH, google+ looks interesting, but not compelling. If you’ve used FB, then you pretty much know how to use google+. It has some easier to use stuff like circles, which makes it easy to publish stuff only to certain groups, or you can just default it to public, for anyone to read (so it’s just like FB groups, which nobody uses, but this is easier to implement).

Sparks looks like a bad RSS feed of things you’re interested in – I can’t see this working in its current state for anyone who uses RSS feeds, or has regular websites they visit.

Huddle – Some sort of group messaging, it seems. I’d like to try it, but given google won’t let most of my mates on, it’s difficult.

Hangouts – live multi-person video chat. I’d like to try it, but given google won’t let most of my mates on, it’s difficult.

Maybe it will be good, maybe it will disappear like Wave. Time will tell, I guess, but they MUST get a lot more people involved before everyone forgets it, or gets so suspicious of it after another couple of false starts that they don’t bother.

3 thoughts

  1. I ♥ Google+!

    Thought I’d start off with e disclaimer.

    Having said that though, I agree with your main point; let people in!

    I was lucky enough to get in pretty much from the get go, I have since been able to get quite a few people in via a ‘loop hole’ in the invitation method (a loop hole I am sure Google werfe well aware of); however, the mechanism is vague, the success rate is varied, and the process is starting to scare people off.

    I don’t know if Google were simply niave to how many people would be interested in the new product, or just massively underestimated the resources needed to manage to initial flood.

    Overall though, I think Google+ is a positive step in the the social networking world. Handing privacy and moderation back to the user is a good start. Allowing simple things like being able to moderate comments to our own posts, and editing of posts is something that should be a given with social networking.

    The ‘Hangout’ concept is very attractive and may well be the feature that wins G+ some points. The potential to group video chat up to ten people, at no cost, is a feature no one has offered before. I can see this being utilised socially (family and friends spread far and wide) as well as professionally (meetings, training sessions etc). As you point out though, it’s hard to test when there aren’t the users to test it with.

    It’s going to be an uphill push for Google to convince people to migrate from Facebook. Despite Facebook’s widely knows security flaws, massive advertising, constant hacking, and general user ‘unfriendliness’, it is familiar and it takes a pretty attractive offer to capture attention and swing the vote.

    I hope G+ is a success. My initial views are positive, and I would like to see it grow. The mobile support (at least for Android) is impressive, and the features attractive. Fingers crossed that Google can take advantage of the momentum, let people in, and get this thing off the ground.

    PS That would be Google with an uppercase G Mr Cullen!


  2. Thing is, GMail launched in the same way, but because nobody had expectations, this haphazard launch technique was tolerated by the masses.

    Of course now GMail has been out for ages and is used by a LOT of people. There are certain expectations in the online community that just weren’t there before and thus Google needs to change it’s launch technique (although clearly they’re not going to).

    Back in the day, people sold gmail invites on eBay. There was a real buzz about the service, it was new and so was the invited launch technique. Now, people expect to be able to get in on the new craze early and don’t tolerate the invite only model (esp. when said invites don’t work because Google closes the invitation period before you can redeem them).

    ’twill be interesting to see if this service gets off the ground and goes anywhere. There is a definite need for a credible FB alternative, just remains to be seen if this is it.


  3. I too hope that it works, but google is not helping itself with this sort of launch. Is there not one person in the company who gets listened to in relation to doing this sort of thing correctly?


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