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Could You Be Google+ Stalking Someone Soon?

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By Elliot Mandel on July 1, 2011

Welcome to the beginning of your Google-ized future! Maybe.

You’ve heard about the beta release of Google+, the new social networking site. Perhaps in the near future, you’ll be complaining how much time you spend on Google everyday, looking through your friends’ pictures and reading their updates. Or y’know, you’ll have totally forgotten that Google+ ever existed.

Google’s new project was released this week to a handful of people who were lucky enough to get invites. The project has been in the works for a while now as Google attempts to eat into Facebook’s share of the social market. Like moths to a flame, techies and social media gurus have been clamoring for this new service since it was released. Also, because the promo video for Google+ is really sexy.

The layout is very similar to Facebook, with a stream that provides news from your friends, integration of pictures and Google chat. One of the biggest differences between the Zuckerberg creation and Google’s new baby is the advent of “circles.” You drag your friends into a circle, which you name appropriately, and you’re able to choose which circles you share certain things with.

It also gives you the ability to sort through your news stream based on which circles you want to see. So say you’re tired of listening to your relatives complaining about your new girlfriend or boyfriend, Google+ makes it easy to both avoid seeing what they say while complaining about them to everyone else.

Check out the clean-looking layout below:

Notice on the bottom right side, there’s an option for “Hangouts,” which enables Google+ users to have multiple user video chats for free. One moment you could be talking to someone on Google Chat, the next you could be having a virtual online party.

Here’s the only catch so far: limited invites. Since Google is rolling out Google+ in its beta stage, invitations are kept to a very small number, which means that people are trying to get invites any way they can. That includes putting their emails on various forum boards and bidding on invites on eBay.

People are paying $.99-$1.99 on eBay to try and get their first piece of the Plus pie. Seriously.

Meanwhile, people are learning that the Internet is not the best place to post your email address to get Google+ invites; bored Internet denizens have been playing “How much spam can we send these guys?” with the posted emails.

Wired.com, which has an in-depth Google+ article, notes:

Google+ is not a typical release. Developed under the code name Emerald Sea, it is the result of a lengthy and urgent effort involving almost all of the company’s products. Hundreds of engineers were involved in the effort. It has been a key focus for new CEO Larry Page.

Google has been way behind in the social networking market, and its intensity to grab some of the Facebook spotlight shows. They let other companies get ahead of them without producing any new technology that could come close to competing. In February 2010, Google tried releasing Buzz. It was supposed to be a social networking add-on that could replace messaging and email. Instead it automatically added everyone’s contacts and made them public, basically exposing any adulterous affairs that people were having at the time. The Federal Trade Commission wasn’t very happy, which led to Google agreeing to 20 years of privacy audits. But it’s a new day and a new project!

Then there was Google Wave, which seemed to have promise, but nobody could figure out what to do with it or how to use it. Hence, the project fizzled.

Though the layout looks very nice, some people are having issues figuring out the potential success rate of Google’s new venture. Even some news sources seem at odds with themselves over how well Google+ will work. According to one section of the International Business Times:

The first major anti-Facebook factor is the seamless integration of Google products with a single Google account which will force users to spend time on Google+, even if they are die-hard fans of Facebook…The second powerful boost factor will be Google’s ability to attract developers to their new platform (They have a great history; think about Android, it is a self-sufficient ecosystem in itself). Facebook is now taking a 30 percent cut of every game developer’s business. Google, being a bigger giant ($30 billion in revenue each year) can afford to make it a 100 percent profit deal for developers by not taking any cuts. What more would they ask for?

This would give credence to the idea that Google+ could be a potential Facebook killer, and if not killer, then maimer. Without developers like Zynga (Farmville), Facebook would lose a lot of the appeal that keeps its users on the site for over half a day daily.

But another section of the International Business Times suggests that Google+ should just go after Twitter instead.

It would probably make more sense for Google+ to target on Twitter, which is more like a broadcasting platform. The ‘friends connecting’ network has already spun its web to a large extent….Twitter search doesn’t dereference URLs, so you can’t search for references to a particular article. Unlike Google search, it doesn’t carry certain search features like spelling corrections and ‘did you mean’ queries.

At the same time that media outlets are attempting to understand how well Google+ will do, they are still trying to figure out exactly which tech category it falls into. Sure, it might succeed in one area, but it might also be a total flop in the others. Dressing as Luke Skywalker will let you pick up girls at a ComicCon, but probably not anywhere else.

Industry writers are having a difficult time pinning down exactly where Google+ will have the biggest impact. According to PC World, “Once Google+ Hangouts launches to a broader audience, Microsoft-owned Skype will have some serious competition when it comes to video chat. Google+ Hangouts can hold 10 people in the same video chat room simultaneously. While Skype 5.0 Beta 2 can do the same, video conferencing on Skype requires a Premium membership that ranges from $4.49 to $8.99 per month.”

And if all that isn’t hype enough, apparently Mark Zuckerberg is on Google+. There is a profile on the site that is using the name Mark Zuckerberg with a sad looking photo of the billionaire. But seeing as it hasn’t been verified, and that his info is only listed as “I make things”, it seems a bit premature to start yelling across the Internet that Zuckerberg has made an account. Though that hasn’t stopped media outlets to claim that Zuckerberg is spying on his competition.

But as the potentially fake Zuckerberg socializes Google+ style, the real Zuckerberg is getting ready to unveil a new creation by the Facebook team. Either it was planned to be released around now or the threat of Google+ stealing some of the social networking pie forced his hand, but Zuckerberg is gearing up for a large announcement in the near future about this new Facebook product.

According to Metro:

Zuckerberg told reporters visiting Facebook’s Seattle office that the company planned to ‘launch something awesome’ next week – a product that had been developed in Seattle, Facebook’s only major engineering center outside of California.

But while we wait on anxious tenterhooks for a potential new Facebook iPad platform or a new way for Facebook to recognize you’ve been tagged in an embarrassing drunken photo, people around the world are blowing up twitter based on their reactions to the new Google service.

Here’s a small sampling of what people are saying:

Moftasa: “Testing Google+, instant upload is great for activists. Photos uploaded instantly before cops delete or take ur phone”

minor9th: “#GooglePlus thoughts: 1) Friend grouping is tedious; 2) no-one’s using it to talk about anything other than Google+. Pretty though!”

sohear: “I give up trying to get in on Google +1. It was probably easier to apply to Harvard just to join Facebook in the early days.”

Kitta: “Google+ backdoor invite. Everyone loves a bit of backdoor action.”

Finally, check out this xkcd comic that provides a perfect explanation of what Google+ actually is.

What is it? Not Facebook. What’s it like? Facebook. Perfect.

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