App of the Week: Five Things Google+ Will Need to Best Facebook
Google began allowing invites into its allegedly cool social network (simply named Google+) last week to fairly glowing reviews. The site aims to capitalize on the wildly popular Gmail e-mail platform and other integrated services already offered by Google including its cloud music service and Google docs.
At the moment, the service is invite-only and the number of invites utilized was so large, Google shut down the invite system to limit the number of users to the initial beta testing system. For those who did make it in, most have concluded that Google+ is, in terms of features, easily as good as its chief rival, Facebook. But, it will take a lot more than beta testing euphoria to beat Zuckerberg and company.
Here are five such things:
5. Legal music integration
With rumors that Facebook could be partnering with popular music streaming service Spotify, all we can say is Google better hurry. It already announced its cloud music service earlier this year, but there is no guarantee Google's music service will be legal. Neither they nor Amazon have come to an agreement with the recording industry to legally store music on their servers like Apple has, and some believe that might be difficult to attain. Even if they did, it is doubtful their interface will rival that of Apple's.
4. A really cool interface
Speaking of interfaces, Google has never been particularly strong when it came to the user experience. Calling their various integrated services "clunky" would be quite a bit of an understatement, so it is hard to imagine Google will suddenly shift gears and make things much easier to use. It's possible and it would be a huge help, considering the complaints levied against Facebook for how difficult it can be to use.
3. A real commitment to privacy
This is one area where Google can make significant inroads with users. Facebook is notorious for suspect privacy policies and unannounced implementation of new services with limited privacy restrictions, not to mention a confusing and even misleading privacy control panel. Facebook goes even further, sharing data with advertisers. If Google can ensure better privacy and limit not only the data it collects but what it provides to partners and advertisers, they will win a lot of fans.
Unfortunately, it is tough to be patient in the world of technology, but Google will need to be. Momentum swings online -- unlike the technology itself -- are often slow to happen and no doubt the same will be true for Google+.
1. Lots of people
Bottom line: if Google+ is going to beat Facebook, it will have to attract lots and lots of followers and not just social networking whores and tech nerds who jump on any latest craze. They need teens and parents and people who want to connect with friends on a mass scale. If you want proof it can be done, look no further than what Facebook did to MySpace, a once-thriving company now barely able to survive. Google+ is still a long shot to climb to the top of the social networking mountain, but people once thought Yahoo! would be the default search engine forever. Things change.