I am certainly not one of the folks who jump in with both feet at every new technology that shows up on the radar. I like to stay back and watch others play with a little, read their reviews and then slowly dip my toes to see if it works for me. I was totally planning to take the same approach with Google Plus. And that is when Dennis Howlett told me he thinks it is pretty cool, and that I should try it. I take Dennis seriously all the time, and decided to give it a try. I also got a second invite from my id to do some sandbox work without annoying my real friends.
First problem was to get signed in. This thing wouldn’t let me in unless someone invited me. And Alex Williams was kind enough to send me one. Signing in was not a big issue at all – I clicked on a few buttons and filled in my name etc and I was ready to go.
First up – Google wanted me to share Picassa albums. If I said no – google won’t let me sign up. Not a good thing in my opinion, but personally not a big deal since I use Kodak Gallery for my photos. Lets just say the first step left a bad taste in my mouth. Of course you can limit access to your photos by playing with security settings – but why bother if I just didnt want to share my albums to begin with?
It looks to me that I can follow any one without their consent by adding them to my circle – like twitter, and unlike facebook. Circles are not difficult to get – kind of similar to groups in facebook, or lists in twitter. Unlike twitter – no one else will know if I put you in the “dumb morons” circle.
Google plus privacy settings are going through what facebook settings went through in the past. It is straight forward to limit who can see your posts, but kind of convoluted to prevent further sharing by people in your circle.
If you are a user of other services from google like mail or calendar, all those things are easily accessible. So that is a definite plus.
Facebook is obviously watching Google plus carefully – they have also announced skype group chats including video. In a way – Facebook with 750 million users can probably outsmart google plus even if they just ape every cool thing google plus does. At the end, google plus is the one who has to catch up – and facebook which has a huge number of users across the globe, should be able to make use of its strong incumbent status to advantage.
For a company whose name is synonymous with search, google does not allow users to search in google plus. Isn’t that kind of backwards? It is like playbook not allowing you to use calendar and email without tethering a blackberry to it. Is that some kind of new thinking ? it could also simply be me not seeing how to use search in the limited time I test drove this.
Of course you can email people with Gmail – but why wouldn’t this allow me to send a message directly to one person in my circle? Is that kind of hard to build? Of course you can create a post and filter it to make sure only one person sees it. But that is not good design, is it?
Google had wave and buzz both of which had several geeks interested. Some companies even went so far as to build prototypes to integrate with it. Well, we know what happened – neither captured popular attention. Wave is officially dead too. So with this history, Google has a lot of baggage to shed before general public uses Google plus. This was also one of the reasons I shied away from this before Dennis nudged me to try. Google is not apple – it does not have the cool factor to pull off something just by brand name.
I saw something on twitter that google plus might soon get an IPhone and IPad app. In 2011 July, why would they go to pre-beta or whatever it is called without a mobile app?
There are no third party hello world apps there – no games, no nothing. I don’t miss it – but knowing how many people are in facebook strictly because of farmville, it is kind of hard for me to imagine there is nothing in Google plus to match. Or is it a way to tell the world “we are so cool that we don’t need to do everything facebook does?”. Why wouldn’t Google bring in google apps in here right upfront?Especially if they have enterprise ambitions.
I could see a way to get hotmail and yahoo contacts to Google plus, I couldn’t see a way to download from facebook. I am pretty sure I could get twitter feeds to integrate with Buzz. So why not with google plus? Or is it hidden somewhere? That surprised me a lot.
I did not particularly like sparks – I could not find a way of using what I have already set up on google reader via sparks. Why would I do it in two places? Not cool.
Hangouts is a pretty neat idea – but then facebook will reproduce it via skype integration, so no added edge there.
Bottom line : What is the point of a pre-beta when you can guess 9 out of 10 people will provide the feedback that all these things are expected as a minimum?
Probably because it is in trial version – there is no nuisance from advertisements. I guess that would change. As long as it doesn’t get in my face, I can live with it. However, I have an uneasy feeling about google keeping an eye on who I am friends with 🙂
I saw some well respected analyst friends of mine terming Google plus as “disruptive” and “enterprise class”. Most of the reasoning seem to be along the lines of how pundits told us how Wave will change how business processes work in future . After all I have described above, I find it hard to agree . Well, if they mean it as a future dream – sure, that is possible. At the moment, it is not enterprise worthy in my opinion. Forget “facebook for enterprise” for now – it needs to mature a lot more. And for long term viability in enterprise – facebook equivalency is just tablestakes. If facebook for enterprise is the vision – i would give facebook the most chance of making it, and not google plus. Duh !
There is however one potential use case where Google can make a difference – as the one place that unifies all kinds of information an enterprise user needs, on the cloud, with appropriate security settings. It is not easy to pull off – but if they do, they can probably make a killing. Well, either that or some one else will integrate everything including Google Plus. If Google is smart – no reason to think other wise – they would not let this opportunity pass by.
Last thought – just like “old generation” enterprisey companies find it hard to understand the business model of “new generation” consumery companies , I think the new guys have the same problem in reverse too.
As for me – at the moment, I am going to park Google plus. I will test drive again after some time to see if something has changed. But meanwhile, I will be following its progress from what rest of the world says.