Long back while I was surfing through Google news, I was caught by an interesting heading – Is Google planning to launch its own social network? Well, we all knew one fact – Google was ruling web especially being the search engine leader and reaping benefits from its online advertising programs but unfortunately it was nowhere when it came to social networking. Probably one could say that Google attempted to foray into social networking with the launch of Google Wave and then later, Google Buzz. But then it was never to be the same…!

Both Wave and Buzz failed like anything. Infact, Google Wave was shut down very soon after it launch as if you are asking me, I would say it was too complex for anyone like me to understand it fully. Though Google Wave has been discontinued, Google Buzz exists still and unlike many other social bookmarking sites, Buzz has remained ineffective and silent. This seems to be getting common these days…social bookmarking certainly looks to be a thing of past where apart from twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, Digg…I am unable to find anything more effective..

Anyways, failure is a stepping stone to success. And I believe Google is hoping for the same with its most recent launch of its much awaited online social networking service – Google+. Well as in support of what I mentioned in my very second line of my first paragraph, it was never ever a rumor. Google was seriously working on the social networking thing but unlike Google Me, which was supposed to the expected name of Google’s social networking service, it is now eventually named as Google+. Now a question can be raised here – Why has Google come up with own social networking service? Was it really required? Well again the answer lies with the fact that Google used to rule web but had little or no presence in the social networking arena. This surely must have been a matter of concern for the search engine giant.
The unprecedented success of Facebook was another major reason why Google was made to rethink over its social strategy. With a user base of over 500 million, Facebook currently leads amongst any other online social networking sites and is believed to be posing major threat to one of its arch rivals, Google when it came to tapping up the resources for online advertising. More and more companies have shifted to Facebook for their advertising needs thus giving Google a food for thought, which is quite rare when you see that Google search advertising as a text worthy leader, has a 95% of the market, but only in the display advertising market 2.5%, ranking fifth while Facebook received a 346 billion times the exposure online display advertising, display advertising market in the 1.1 trillion accounted for 31.2% of market share, compared with 16.2 last year % almost doubled the market share of second place Yahoo’s 3 times.
Now, can Google+ change the fortunes for Google? Can it be the Facebook killer? Well, I think it would be too soon to let myself speak on the same but from the initial impression, it looks really good. Very similar to what you find in most of the Google products and services, the overall look and feel remains same. Google+ has a very neat and clean interface. Thumbs up for the same! The layout looks far impressive and gives me a feeling of being on Facebook. Yes…very much a copycat of Facebook. But anyways, the thing which goes in favor of Google+ is its two outstanding additions- Circles and Hangouts. To tell you more, Circles enable you to group your friends into specific groups in such a way that they can or cannot view your content which is shared through the main Stream page. This really makes is easier to share posts with just your business colleagues or your family. And certainly can keep away the noise and other privacy concerns. Definitely a strong reason for others to consider Google+ as an ideal social networking platform.
Hangouts is yet another remarkable feature of Google+. Just imagine 10 users simultaneously in a video chat with each other… Truly exciting…Isn’t it? As per my knowledge, Hangouts has been an instant hit with the Google+ beta testers. It is certainly one of the killer features of Google+ and just few tweaks could make it an amazing video platform. I hope Google is determined to do the same. Well, apart from hangouts and circles there isn’t anything much to notice in Google+ for present but since it is in the beta version, we can surely hope for many exciting features in the times to come. Right now, Google+ is available for limited users and the service can only be tried out by the lucky invitees. I was one of them ;) I don’t know if invitations are still open or not but I am sure, Google+ will be open to all very soon. Then you can surely make the most of it. Google+ app is also available for download from the android market. I have downloaded it and it really is very easy to use though I find it a bit slow and with limited functionalities. Anyways, it should get better with future updates.
Also, one more thing which caught my attention was the automated sharing of pics from my cellphone with my Google+ Circles. Yes, now you have an option to automatically share your pics on Google+ Albums from your Android based handset where again you can set the privacy rules, what to show and what not to. But very recently, I was in a mess. I had disabled public sharing of some of my albums in Google+ especially the album where I was uploading my blog images. Once I did it, I could see images hidden in my blog posts even in my recent posts widget. I was clueless about the same till I found one way out. Instead of completely disabling public sharing of your albums, you can go for limited sharing which allows others to view your album pics only if they have the right link/url to access the same. This way you can still hide your albums on Google+ as well as make your images display clearly on your blogger blogs. Hope bloggers find it useful..!
So here we go. Having been an avid admirer of Google’s product and services, I have to say that Google+ is yet another innovative step from Google to prove its supremacy on web. It may not be the best but still I believe it has a lot of potential to make it big in future. Facebook killer or not, I think it is too early to comment over the same but hopefully Google is bucked up for the same and no matter whomsoever wins this race, we are ready for a joyride. Definitely, not against the Facebook but surely would love to see Google raise to the occasion and let everyone go gaga over its services. I can foresee it all…what about you ? What do you expect to see from Google+? Can Google prove this time…?
Let me know your thoughts..!