Friday, July 8, 2011

What about Google+?

What about Google+? Google, being a big brand people love to associate with, can pose stiff competition to any market leader in any of the consumer internet services. No doubt! Similar is the case with Google+. The media is abuzz with speculations to what it will do to the social networking world. Will it replace Facebook and the users will take to it with a zoom? Maybe.

There are many points of views which I want to summarise first before trying to draw any logical conclusion.

Google+ has features which lets people have better control over their privacy with the people they network with. Google+ has circles which lets users segregate their friends depending on the type of acquaintance a person might have with each of them. The user gets to decide what content to share with which circle. At the same time Google+ lets you share content publicly too.

Then there is Hangout which lets you choose people from any circle and have a video chat with up to 10 people at a time. Circles and hangout are the two promising features of Google+ which can create the pull effect to increase the users exponentially.

Brand value and Fan following:
Another aspect for Google+ is that it is a platform from the brand Google which has trust, confidence and fan following with many internet users due to many of the Google’s earlier products such as Gmail, Search and Google Docs. That’s good enough a reason for users to consider Google+ as their social networking platform, as all their favourite services will be under one umbrella of Google brand.

Changing Social Needs of the Internet Users since Facebook was Launched:
Facebook users have come of age since it was launched. The initial users were primarily the college students who were there to network with their friends. Networking needs and styles are very different during college stage and the subsequent stages of life where people move on with their professional and personal family lives. The social networking needs change. Due to the changed needs you may not want to continue being friends with some people with whom you were friends back in college days. You may not want to be tagged in someone’s picture and not be able to untag it. It is at times annoying when you move on in your life out of college.

At the same time social networking is the thing that people need and want especially having experienced it with Facebook and LinkedIn. To all these issues that are posed by Facebook, Google+ can provide a solution. But before I draw any conclusion it also important to note that the big-wigs in the social networking world understand that privacy in social networking is not an issue for the young. It is an issue for the older generation. It must also be noted that the behaviour on the internet is perceived to be very different than from the real life for most people.

If we take the essence of all the above points of views, it will be practical to say that maybe Google+ will be more acceptable by the professional who are now working with a job. That will also include those young users of the Facebook who have now grown up and are out of college. With Google+ they might want to start afresh. For such users Google+ might be the opportunity to dump their Facebook accounts and create their profiles afresh with more carefully chosen content, pictures and friends.  Having said that, I think that Google+ has a potential market in the age group of 24 years and above which is huge. Google also has the advantage of riding on its brand value and the trust that it has built with many professionals world-wide. Hence integrating the sleek features that Google+ is offering and the not-so-obvious needs of the people, Facebook might see a drift in certain types of profiles to Google+. Facebook might still be the first choice for social networking with the majority of school/college students and with the celebrities.