Google Challenges Facebook with new Google+ Product

http://techcrunch.com/2011/06/28/google-plus/

Last week, Google began rolling out its latest social media project – Google + in a field test, available to beta users by invitation.  TechCrunch analyzed the first round of the product and spoke with the two Google executives heading up the Google+ project, Vic Gundotra and Bradley Horowitz.

One of the main features of the Google+ product is the “Circles” function.  Circles allow users to organize contacts, imported from Gmail and Google Contacts.  Although many users may be turned off to the idea of groups a la Facebook groups, those that have tried Circles comment in the article that the interface is easy to use and much better than the Facebook group capabilities.

Google executives walked TechCrunch through a few more of the features and benefits of Google+ including a group video chat feature, called “Hangouts”.  The main takeaway from the features discussed in the article is that they work together to unify everything you do on Google+, including searching and sharing content and socializing with your contacts.

The article is definitely complimentary to the product itself and the author seemed to have a positive experience with the features available on Google+.  The product may be seamless and easy to interact with, but the challenge for Google will be getting users to visit, and remain active on the site.  Like Google Buzz, is Google risking another failed social space attempt?

From what the executives detail, Google+ is meant to mimic how we interact in the “real” world, ultimately making more sense for the end user versus other social platforms.  One major hurdle the article discusses, and that we’ve talked about in class, is the lack of users to create a successful network.  At least in the first round of Google+, there is minimal, if any integration with Facebook or Twitter.  Is it a smart move on Google’s part to introduce a product that is mainly stand alone?  Or will the network effect be too strong for even Google to overcome?

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