Sci-Tech

Google+ a little more

In just two weeks, Google's much-anticipated and delayed foray into the ‘social' Web, Google Plus, crossed the 10 million mark. Despite being launched in an exclusive by-invites-only mode, no less than 1 billion items were shared in a single day and the +1 button (similar to Facebook's ‘Like') is already all over the Web.

Google may finally have got third time lucky with Plus. After two failed attempts to enter the ‘social' sphere on the Web — the lukewarm Google Wave and the controversial Buzz — Plus' “field trial phase” appears to be going down well with users. Amidst reports of Facebook (the social networking giant that has over 750 million users worldwide) losing users — which has been rubbished by the firm — Plus hopes to give users more privacy, more control over their data stream and an integrated Google experience by weaving together its plethora of existing services.

Figures quoted by third-party analytics service provider, Google Analytics, project that India is the second largest country in terms of Google Plus users, comprising over 5.6 per cent of the total share, following the U.S. at 49.3 per cent. The number of active users is pegged at around 18,000 in India. While the accuracy of this statistic cannot be vouched for, experts say this is plausible given that Google dominates the Internet in emerging markets.

Indeed, Google appears to have learnt its lessons. But can it replace the wide appeal of Facebook or provide the simplicity and speed of Twitter? Plus will have to do a lot more than it is doing now to actually get people to make that shift. So what does Plus offer? For starters, Google Plus' Beta already appears to score over its competitors on privacy. Learning its lessons from Buzz, which creeped out Gmail users, privacy controls are fairly ubiquitous. This is particularly important, because unlike Facebook, Google users are bound to be paranoid about the fact that their personal email is closely linked to this new social media platform.

The interface is clean. Not as cluttered as Facebook yet, the minimalist interface offers three principal choices: Circles, Hangout and Sparks. Of these, both Circles and Hangouts score over what's already on offer, while Sparks appears to be attempting to offer you a steady stream of content from the Web, based on your ‘interests'.

In Circles, Plus takes a cue from Diaspora, the Free and distributed social networking alternative to Facebook. Like ‘aspects' on Diaspora, which allows you to compartmentalise your friends and control what you share with whom, Circles allows you to create your own groups too. And discreet it is, for your ‘circles' are only visible to you. This, to date, is the most appealing feature of Plus.

Hangouts, too, are great, and scores over Facebook's recent Web-chat feature, because it allows you to Web-conference with 10 users at the same time.

For brands

Google has announced that Plus is currently only for individual users. However, its separate registration process for brands and businesses has already drawn over 35,000 applications.

Gaurav Mishra, social media expert and Asia Director of Social Media at MSLGroup, says, “In the long term, there are two important players: You Tube, a possible marketing tool, and Blogger, still the biggest blogging platform. It will be interesting from a marketing perspective to see how it integrates with Blogger, Adwords and Search.”

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Printable version | May 29, 2020 7:28:28 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/sci-tech/google-a-little-more/article2230704.ece

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