Update 3/2/18: I was wrong!!!! LOLOLOL It happens. A lot.

So Google release Google+ (Google Plus) the other day. And no one seems to be making too much of a fuss. LOL, jk, but seriously.

Of course all the tech people are talking about it, but nobody really does seem to be taking it very seriously...Yet?

For those who still haven't heard yet, Google Plus = Facebook alternative from Google.

The amazing thing about Google Plus - admittedly after just doing a minor bit of research and briefly trying it out - is that they are really building their whole platform around the one thing that Facebook as seemingly ignored: Privacy. Or, rather, relationship groups.

Back it on up...

Several months ago, I watched this presentation* by a dude from Google (a.k.a. Paul Adams) talking about the issue with social networking today, and how one of the key flaws in the modern social network - via user research of course - is that users are forced to view the whole world as one big public network. Or at least that's the hope of social network creators everywhere (or those that really matter anyway).

We Segment

The trouble with that is that nobody really thinks of their relationships in one ginormous conglomerate. We segment.

Rather than seeing some big "friends list" in our heads, we tend to group our friends into shared experiences, geographic regions, workplaces, or any logical criteria our brains can find to categorize our relationships.

So maybe Facebook and other popular social media outlets are on to something with unifying all of our information, relationships, and contexts, but on the other hand maybe the world just isn't ready for that?

The genius that is Google+...or "circles" at least

This is the amazing thing about what Google is doing with Google+. It seems that Google - by simply taking time to do a little research - was able to identify a massive gaping hole in the fundamental way the Facebook giant works, and build a competitor on it.

Not that it truly is that big of a flaw - or a flaw at all - but the fact that Facebook offers it's users little meaningful way to categorize friends and select what information to share with sets of friends is not only an oversight, it's really amazing considering how obvious "relationship segmenting" as a behavior seems once pointed out.

And that's what has me so interested in Google+: the circles feature. This whole idea of allowing users to interact with peers and groups of people online more like they do in real life is really a good move - one which I think most social media users will really welcome in light of the value social media users have placed (and voiced) on privacy in recent months.

Rise of the End?

Could Google+ really signify the rise of the end of Facebook? Or even just the end of the rise of Facebook?

I really cannot tell. But my bets are a couple of things could happen here:

  1. Google is seriously going to give Facebook a run for their money. Although they don't possess an existing base of social media users - their Google! They possess most of the world's traffic! That alone could spell disaster for Facebook.

    But what's more likely is they will simply pressure Facebook into taking an appropriate response to add features that cater to this "relationship segmenting" behavior to their own app.

    It's honestly not the type of thing you could really put past Google to do - to make this whole social network venture just to put a little pressure on Facebook to do the right thing with their own app. It's not like they couldn't afford it, or get some benefit out of it in the end.

  2. Talking with a friend and colleague the other day, he surmised that the more likely outcome Google may be betting on is simply devaluing Facebook's IPO by becoming it's legitimate competition.

    In all honestly, if I had to think about it from sheer business terms (which companies do from time to time ;-) ) This is where I would put my money for betting why Google+ exists.

I'm very much looking forward to seeing where this whole Google+ thing ends up. So far, I have to say it seems like it has great features, a fine interface (certainly more interesting than Facebook's 6+ year old interface), lots of potential for growth being backed by Google (read: money and talent), and plenty of hype (it's got both kinds).</p>

Whether the outcome is that Google+ simply makes Facebook a better app, or that Google+ becomes the next replacement network (remember mySpace anyone?), I'll be happy if it leads to better social interactions in either venue.

+1 Google.

What do you think about all this Google+ vs. Facebook hype? Does Google+ stand a chance at becoming legit Facebook competition? Does Google have pure motives in pursuing their own version of the social network?

*Special thanks to my friend and colleague JK for sharing that link last year, and for always passing along good stuff.