Can a group of some of the brightest engineers at Google get social networking right? Is it possible to fully research, map out and execute the perfect social network? I’m not entirely sure about that.
I’m not sure that the most successful social networks were engineered for success. Most started out as pet projects to serve a very small purpose and evolved over time into social phenomena, gaining critical mass and new features as they progressed.
Google has taken an entirely different approach. Probably late to the game in social networking, Google is attempting to leverage its vast pervasiveness, ability to market research, and its talented engineering core, to attempt to understand what it is users would want from the perfect social network.
It will try to deliver this super network via “Google+”.
Will it be successful? That will depend on user adoption of course. And there must be a compelling reason for users to adopt Google+. The network must fill a new need. I’m not sure users are ready for yet another need, which is where I see the hurdle, despite Google’s vast reach into virtually every household in the world.
Will it’s new features make it a replacement for something else? Probably not at this time… however, if enough users give it a try, Google+ may have a fighting chance. For now, only time will tell. The real question is, would Google have been better off partnering with an existing network?
One of the best arguments I’ve heard lately in the debate as to whether Google+ will spell the demise of Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn is that companies cannot block the use of Google in the workplace. It’s needed too much. People need Gmail (some businesses run on it), they need search, they need AdWords, they need Google Docs, Google Apps, and so on and so forth. While it might be possible for workplaces to filter out just the Google+ features from their employee desktops, it will be a tough battle. Right now, however, it’s really easy to block access to Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn en mass. The other problem is that smart phones are proliferating the workplace. So, unless companies block usage of personal smart phones in the office, and block social media on company smart phones, they’ll have to accept that staff will use these sites.
So, Google+ is positioned for success.