Seven weeks have passed since Google announced its innovation in the way that Internet users interact with one another. So how is Google+ doing? Ten million sign-ups in two weeks and 25 million accepted invitations after four weeks might be easily taken as a signal that when the service opens up (as it’s still in beta), it could be a force to be reckoned with.
I’m not so sure.
Let’s be clear: the design and the implementation of the service is a sight for sore eyes. It reminds me of how Facebook’s simplicity used to be king, mixed in with a bit of what Twitter would probably like to see in regards to media (photos, links, video) integration.
You have to admit, though, that the initial wave of buzz (puns intended) around Google+ has dropped off significantly, and more criticisms have taken a siege position on the service. Some of the attacks on Google’s handling of its real name policy (you can’t use a name that isn’t your legal name) might be well-founded, but other attacks such as the lack of brand or company support are petty enough that there’s a negative spotlight put onto this aspiring network.
While Google has yet to release an acceptable way for businesses to get onto the network, “social media experts” have moved straight to trashing the company for its short-sightedness while forgetting why social networks such as Facebook and Twitter originally did so well: they were ad-free networks of real people.
Twitter might not have had the cleanest of records when it came to spammers a few years back, but I’ve always thought of Facebook as a network of real people. Quora, the upcoming question-and-answer network, is one of the most recent networks that seems to be requiring a real name in order to participate, yet there’s no backlash there.
Google+’s addition of games to its social network is another cause for concern for people that were planning on using it as a pseudo-professional network. Sure, the privacy controls allow you to tweak how posts appear to other users, but if your profile is completely empty, how open are you with your profile? Isn’t the point of Google+ to be honest about yourself for the sake of search results?
Did I just give something away?
Google+ is an experience in the openness of a social network for Google’s search results’ sake. It is, fundamentally, all about search. G+ is an experience that’s still in testing and one that is still evolving, and yet for all the negative press that Google+ is getting, rarely have I seen the product referred to as in its testing phase.
Perhaps we should be revisiting Google+ in about 20 weeks or so to see if the critics have calmed down and started accepting what Google is doing. There’s still more to see here, so let’s give it some time.