There has been a great deal of buzz (no pun intended) surrounding Google+ (or Google Plus, depending on whether you want it to be search-engine friendly), and it has so far been pretty well-received. Some have even gone so far as to say it is a Facebook killer, though the majority seem to think it is what it is: a field trial by Google to test their own unique flavor of social networking.
So which is it? Is it the Facebook successor, come to dethrone the current king? Or is it simply a novelty, an experiment on Google’s part that will go the way of Google Wave and Google Buzz?
It all depends. Google’s strategy of keeping Google Plus exclusive has been working; the hype generated by Google’s “limited field trial” has been very successful, garnering the search giant an exponential amounts of adherents in the past few months. The growth seems to show little to no signs of slowing, and first impressions of Google Plus are, for the most part, quite positive indeed.
The main point to remember here is that Google’s not joking when it says that Google+ is in a limited field trial. While it is a functional, capable social networking system on its own right now, Google is really trying hard to perfect their system. They ran into a huge snag with Google Buzz and the subsequent privacy fallout, so this time around they’re waiting and meticulously keeping details to do things right.
This privacy aspect seems to be central to Google’s strategy with Google+; they’ve implemented a significant amount of granularity to the site’s privacy controls, making it very easy to share specific information only with certain people at any given time. Unlike Facebook’s design, which makes limiting sharing a little difficult to find and hard to implement, Google’s “circles” system is very upfront and clear; you know what you’re sharing with who, and switching that from individual post to individual post is quite easy.
Beyond that, Google+’s interface is clean, slick, and very much what you’d expect from the search giant’s foray into social networking. It’s much more sparse compared to Facebook’s oft-frenetic News Feed, and while some may enjoy the peace and quiet, others may be left unsatisfied.
Google+ is not a Facebook killer or replacement; it is still an experiment in open field trial by the Google team. While Google+ is hot right now, it is still in its infancy in many ways. In that regard, at least, it doesn’t quite live up to the “killer app” reputation it has seemed to gain lately. The service itself is excellent, however, and a force to be reckoned with; if it keeps growing as it has been and Google quashes bugs and responds to user feedback and insights, it could be a very powerful alternative social networking site for people who want more granularity and privacy in their online social arenas.