Thursday, 28 July 2011

What's it all about Google?

Recently I've been reading a lot about Google+ and how it compares to Facebook etc. and I can't help feeling most of it seems to be missing the point a little.

I'm not sure Google+ is all about being a social network, its certainly not its only purpose, and most of the comparisons in some way seem a little unfair. In the main they don't highlight the fact that Google+ has the potential to really cement other Google services and has the overarching potential benefit of making it even more likely to be the 'homepage' to the internet (a status Google have been struggling to hold on to recently). For example, iGoogle is a setting you create against your profile, Google Groups uses your profile, Gmail...etc. This means that when making a real comparison between the two services Facebook falls someway short in providing this breadth and certainly it doesn't offer the search capability.

Given all of this I thought I'd take another look at Google's 2011 strategy (what has been publically revealed any way) and see if this can explain anything. Unfortunately my quick review hasn't exactly helped explain what Google+ is all about or where it is heading. First of all Eric Schmidt spoke to Harvard Business Review and said all of their strategic initiatives for 2011 are about mobile. That's ALL of them. This could make some sense when you think about how much of mobile usage is related to mobile social activity but it doesn't completely explain things.

Having thought about the services Google has launched over the years and how it has extended its operations away from 'search' you start to piece together some sort of journey that perhaps naturally leads to Google+. As I mentioned before your Google Profile or A/C allows you access / the ability to fully utilise all sorts of services. You Tube by all accounts is already one massive open social environment where video is shared. Services like the now deceased Wave were about having a shared space on the web where you can discuss things and even work together, other services like Google docs is largely about the same thing as well. Considering this an important question emerges. Is Google+ perhaps more about offering a way of collaborating and sharing in a single platform that can be utilised across all of the Google real-estate? If this is the case does it matter if you have lots and lots of populated circles and operate it as a fully functioning Facebook replacement? I think it doesn't. I think its a way of sharing that means you can just target groups of people or even select them afresh when it's appropriate to share something. Whether this view will be shared by the masses, I'm not sure, but I think this is down to Google as much as anything.

Some of this isn't a complete revelation, but I think that it highlights Google+ as a real strategic development and one that perhaps isn't that much to do with Facebook. I'm eager to see if Google can really draw Google+ into its overall capability in a way that will make it a truley powerful tool. And I'm also excited about its marketing potential, although I do hope that Google are prepared to play nicely, that way we can all help make it a great 'space'.

1 comment:

  1. The 'battle' that has been created between Google+ and Facebook (and to some extent, Twitter) is interesting in that people seem to enjoy envisioning a 'winner takes all' scenario. I'm sure many people would be rejoicing if Facebook's numbers steamrolled into an apocalyptic decline, even if they have spent the last 5 years using it as their primary point of contact for friends and family! So long, and thanks for all the fish.

    I'm in agreement somewhat in that Google+ isn't all about 'squashing' Facebook, but more about staking it's claim in a part of the mobile spectrum it has been lacking in the past - data sent from a user to Google's servers. It's very telling that the Android Google+ 'app' is integrated into the OS and by default (correct me if I am wrong) sends any picture you take automatically to a linked Google+ account. People don't use Google Search on mobile devices like they do on a desktop browser - targeted information retrieval and app usage bypasses many traditional search methods on mobile. Google (being all about data absorption, retrieval and off the back of this, advertising) have been experimenting with other methods on mobile for doing this. Google+ might just have cracked it.

    There will be a debate for a long time yet as to what Google's strategy is regarding Google+ regardless of whether or not they accept the fact that all Google's strategies are geared towards mobile.