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The new social networking site might be a darling now, but it can't ride the hype forever
On the left, the main menu of Google+ for iPhone. On the right, the main menu of Facebook for iPhone. (Almost makes me want to believe that the only reason Google+ feels so good is that we just need a change of [aesthetic] pace. Those icons are so nice!)
No, but really, Google+ launched on the iPhone yesterday and, after playing around with it a bit, it’s not as exciting as I thought it would be. But then, what was I expecting?
It’s just a new mobile app for a nearly month-old social network. That means that the things you can do in the app aren’t any different from things you can do on the Web version of Google+, which in turn means it’s not really different from using Facebook or Twitter.
Share things with people. Post photos. Read the stream. Pore over your own profile.
Blah, blah, blah.
Oh, there’s Huddle, whereby you group message your friends, but most people aren’t even on Google+ yet, so it’s not exactly a fluid experience setting up conversations with your friends. Oh, and there’s Circles, so you can read different types of streams, but that was expected.
Prettier icons, a fresh start, the best of Facebook and Twitter, a quick feedback loop, more powerful circle-centric sharing--Google+ really does have a lot going for it, but if the hype dies too soon, Facebook’s grip on 750 million members will be too much to topple over. A mobile app should bring more to the table, it should be as compelling as Google+ was when it first emerged on the Web.
Even after all the good things and all the bad things being said about Google+ (on the Web and on mobile), much of the commentary tends to return to a neutral point, taking no side in particular but voicing a concern about time: how many more social networking sites can we really handle?
"Nobody has any free time," said LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner on Tuesday. "Unlike social platforms and TV, which can coexist, you don't see people using Twitter while they're using Facebook, or using Facebook while they're using LinkedIn."
In the old social media world, LinkedIn was viewed as the professional network, Facebook was viewed as the place for family and friends, and Twitter was viewed as the public broadcasting site. Google+ throws a wrench into that segmented system by offering a place where you can share professionally, private or publicly--and it’s dead easy to do so.
Is that enough to make it the killer social networking service? Maybe, maybe not. I guess we’ll all be deciding that over the next few months.
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