+Last week, Google jumped back into the social network fray with the beta launch of the Google+ project, which describes it as “...makes sharing online more like sharing in real life.” Beta invites started going out last Tuesday and were shut down late Wednesday night after “insane demand”. It has yet to be restored. I've got a few people asking me to invite them still. (Supposedly there is a work around now).
It’s interesting to watch this unfold for Google. One would hope it fares better than their Orkut network, which was launched in 2004--about 2 years before Facebook opened to the public--and after a failed bid to buy Friendster a year earlier. Orkut’s popularity faded in the US rather quickly and currently is dominated by users from Brazil (48.0%) and India (39.2%). It will be interesting to see if Google+ adopts any features or functionality that they’ve already built for Orkut.
From circles to group your friends and family (for more targeted broadcasting of information) to huddle (which allows for group video chats), there are some pieces of functionality which seem to be the genesis complaints and dreams of users of other social networks. In addition there’s the tried and true: ability to check-in, share pictures (via Picasa), and chat. Down the road, it’s likely that Google will integrate other products such as Reader, Documents and Calendar.
One of the big questions for marketers is what will Google+ offer for brands? The current layout is clean and ad free, but the design is so simplistic that they could easily fit in advertising without altering much. There have been some rumors about brand pages in its future as well (it took a long time for Facebook to open up to brands after going “public”). It will be interesting to see how Google+ plans to lay these out, and whether or not there will be improvements from the way in which Facebook currently handles them. Will brand “apps” be built in HTML5? Will there be clearer navigation to extra pages and content? How often will Google+ update its policies and change its layout?
Nothing but time will tell.