I was somewhat cynical when I heard the pre-launch rumours about Google’s ‘new social media platform.’ After all, Google Buzz was a dismal failure, essentially an attempted clone of Twitter that was though massively under populated.

In fact, my stance on the matter had been that Google should probably concentrate less on trying to get fingers into all the pies and, instead, stick with their forte – search.

Cycnical? You bet. Yet in spite of this, when Google Plus went into ‘invitation only’ testing and I wasn’t on the guest list, I started to feel a little left out and took to Twitter for a quick tantrum.

Google Plus

Cue DMs and @ mentions from people offering to invite me in! RESULT!


The Good and the Bad

I managed to invite in a few colleagues and friends as well, which was an added bonus.

I spent most of yesterday evening familiarising myself with the platform. It has been touted in blogs and in the media over the last few days as both a, ‘Facebook Killer,’ and ‘the new LinkedIn,’ as well as having received more derogatory reviews as well.

There’s little point in me rehashing the entire feature list here. That’s all covered on the Google Plus website.

But suffice to say that, personally, I’m impressed. Pride swallowed, cynicism kicked into touch. I’m genuinely impressed.

Granted, it’s far from perfect. At the moment, it’s a little eerily quiet. But once the doors open and registration is a free-for-all, I imagine this will change.

To sum up the good and the bad:

The Good

  • Circles! Yes, it didn’t take long for someone to create a Facebook app that enabled Facebook’s lists to behave more like Google Circles. But this level of flexibility with sharing and the simplicity of the user interface and the process of organising Circles makes this a real winner for me.
  • Huddle. This strikes me as a bit like ‘WhatsApp,’ which is a mobile app enabling you to have text based conversations on the go. But there’s no doubt that integrating a group chat mobile function into the platform was a smart move.
  • Hangout. Now I’ve heard mixed reviews about this. Some people argue that nobody ‘wants’ to video chat on Facebook or Twitter. But my own personal argument is that maybe that’s simply because nobody has the option to video chat while using these social platforms. Those who argue that you can use Skype or MSN for video perhaps fail to remember that the same could have been said for instant messaging and Facebook before the launch of Facebook Chat. I think it was another clever call on Google’s part to make this something possible – but by no means compulsory or overly in your face on Google Plus.

The Bad

  • Android favouritism. Now I do get that Android is Google’s baby and Google will always want to give its baby the best first. But let’s not forget that iPhone users are massive on the social media usage and overlooking them with the release of the first mobile app seems ignorant. I’m in no doubt that the iOS version won’t be far away, but as an iPhone user enjoying Google Plus, this delay gives me a cause to whinge.
  • It’s all a little bit quiet. Now I do understand that is the idea of a closed testing period. But nonetheless, there’s not much going on in there right now. That doesn’t take away from my ability to see the potential, though!
  • Photos. I find the whole process of uploading photos and organising who can see them a little bit clunky! Sorry, Google.

But on the whole, I like it!

Is this the End for Facebook/Twitter/LinkedIn/Skype?

No. Not in my opinion, at least. I might have argued previously that there is space in the market for another big social media player, but I reckon I have been convinced otherwise. I will continue to use Google Plus… but that doesn’t mean I will stop using any of the others I use.

Google takes bits of the concept of all 4 of those platforms. But it’s the communities that tie people to their social platforms and I think Skype, Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter are all established enough to survive.

Mind you, you could have said that about MySpace once upon a time…