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.
- 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.
- Better friend management – there doesn’t appear to have been much progress here, as yet.
- 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.
- Be able to focus the default stream on particular circles – Nope, no progress here.
- Allow brands to have a presence – Done! Brands can now create pages which can be added to your circles and +1d.
- Events – no changes here. I’ll still be using Facebook for event planning.
- 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.
- 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.