Neil Turner's Blog

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Google+ progress report

Balloons and Drinks

In September, I wrote about the 8 things that Google+ needs to do to become popular. It’s been a good 6 weeks then, so maybe it’s time for a progress report.

  1. The API – Google+ has now launched its API, to allow third-party developers to be build apps that link into Google+. Alas, the API is read-only, so whilst it’s possible to get data out of Google+, you can’t put data in. In particular, this means that it’s not possible to crosspost data that’s already on another service like Twitter or Facebook; but you can, theoretically, post something to Google+ and have it crossposted elsewhere. It’s a start, but a full read-write API is needed.
  2. Better friend management – there doesn’t appear to have been much progress here, as yet.
  3. Appeal to the younger generation – there’s still only 21 games, and no native BlackBerry app. But there are signs that Google is relaxing its ‘real name’ policy.
  4. Be able to focus the default stream on particular circles – Nope, no progress here.
  5. Allow brands to have a presence – Done! Brands can now create pages which can be added to your circles and +1d.
  6. Events – no changes here. I’ll still be using Facebook for event planning.
  7. Messaging – you can now send private messages to other Google+ users by clicking a link below their picture on their profile pages, and you can control who can send you messages (i.e. specific circles or everyone). So, Done.
  8. Better integration of +1s and Buzz – Google Buzz is being killed off; Google Reader now natively supports +1ing of items which then – optionally – show in your news feed.

Considering that some of these issues have been solved, and others have seen work, in such a short space of time is actually very encouraging, and shows that the site has promise. A number of my friends have made it their main social presence instead of Facebook.

This is why I generally disagree with Slate‘s article that states that Google+ is dead, and that Google have missed the chance to overtake Facebook. It’s not perfect but Google+ is far from dead, and is becoming more popular in my experience. I do agree with the point that Google has taken a forced top-down approach with Google+, especially with brands and its real names policy, which has had a detrimental effect – in my opinion, those brands that set up user profiles should have been allowed to keep them and then transitioned to the Pages feature which launched this week. Twitter grew in a far more organic way, and it was users who came up with the idea of @replies, #hashtags and retweets which were later adopted by Twitter themselves as supported features. Google+ doesn’t seem to want to allow its users to innovate, and its restrictive API (at present) prevents third-party developers from doing the same.

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