First Take: Google+ Gets Features Right –But Offers No Reason to Leave Facebook

Finally, after many mis-starts and social media product debacles, Google gets their social networking offering down right. The downside is, there’s no reason to call this a “Plus”, it’s just catchup.

Google has learned from failed attempts
Historically, Google has been complacent when it goes to social networking, not having realized how quickly Facebook was going to grow many years ago, innovation in this category was lackluster. Amid several attempts most have failed (see the chronology of failed Google attempts), there is hope with yesterday’s announcement. In previous launches, their efforts were mere copies of Facebook’s (+1 vs Like) or struggled with too much complexity (Wave) and privacy woes (see my additional analysis on Google vs Facebook vs Twitter).

Yet strikes the right balance with Google+
Although I’ve only spent a few hours cruising throughout Google’s latest endeavor, “Google +1” I found myself strangely comfortable with the feature set. Groups (now called “Circles”), A wall with a cascading microfeed, Chat tools, commenting tools. In particular, great care was taken to craft the “Share” feature which makes it crystal clear on which circle or even in public you’ll share information. In the past, both Google and Facebook have miffed on how information will be shared. Being a late adopter has given Google the advantage here, they’ve had a few mistries, seen where Facebook has fallen, and have put the right features together.

But offers no reason to migrate From Facebook…yet
Yet, despite the familiar balance of features and site structure layout, this looks like a bare bones version of Facebook (minus the excessive ads, applications, yesterday tabs, and confusing user interface). As a result, I don’t see how this differentiates from Facebook. There is one saving grace that could make this tool unique, “Google Sparks” which is a conversation starter around different topics, that could leverage the Google search and media features.While only on the first week, I’ll reserve final judgement, but there isn’t a compelling reason why someone would switch to Google+ after setting up their social connections on Facebook.

The Bottom Line:
When it comes to features, Google is at parity with Facebook, but isn’t compelling for a mass immigration of social behavior. They must quickly integrate Google’s unique products like YouTube, Gmail, Apps, and others to slowly attract users over.

Below is some screenshots, and here’s a link to my public Google+ profile.

Google+ Welcome Page

Screenshot of "Hangout" in Google+ with Joseph Tame @tamegoeswild