Google goes after Facebook with Google+
After months of rumors, Google takes the wraps off its own social network
Computerworld - After months of speculation, Google has launched a social network to rival Facebook.
Google today unveiled its Google+ project, a social networking service that looks and functions very much like Facebook. The two Internet giants have been increasingly competitive, and with today's announcement, Google is taking a giant step directly onto Facebook's market.
"Among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others," wrote Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering, in a blog post. "Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online. Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools. In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it."
Google's new service, which now is only available to a small group of users and invitees, is designed to enable people to post status updates, share links and upload photos.
However, what Google hopes will set its social network apart from Facebook and the smaller social networking services is that Google+ is set up to allow users to communicate within separate groups of their online friends. Instead of posting an update that goes out to everyone, Google+ enables users to create "circles" or groups, such as a user's poker buddies, college friends, work colleagues and family members.
Now a user can communicate separately with each group.
"The "circles" idea makes a lot of sense," said Ezra Gottheil, an analyst at Technology Business Research. "It's smart, and while you can do something similar in Facebook, it's not Facebook's main thing. It's not as easy to do."
But it remains to be seen whether this feature will be enough to convince Facebook users -- many of whom are already tied in with sometimes hundreds of people on Facebook -- to use a second social network or even toss aside the über-popular Facebook in favor a brand new service that not many people are using.
Bloggers and pundits have long talked about whether Google would come out with a Facebook killer, but that is one tall order.
The one certainty is that Google is facing an uphill battle in taking on Facebook. While the social network has officially said that it has more than 500 million users, other sources recently have reported that the number now is more than 750 million.
But Google has accepted the challenge.
With Google+, the company is giving users a way to get a rolling scroll of content from across the Internet on any topic of they're interested in. Really into fashion, gardening or restoring old cars? Google+ will stream a feed of content into your page so you can stay up to date on your favorite topics.
And with a feature called "Hangouts," Google+ enables users to meet up with their friends online, using multiperson video.
Want to share the photos on your smartphone but don't want the hassle of uploading them? With the user's permission, Google+ will take the photos you've snapped with your phone and store them in the cloud so you can easily move them onto any of your devices.
"We realize that Google+ is a different kind of project, requiring a different kind of focus -- on you," Gundotra wrote. "That's why we're giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data."
Sharon Gaudin covers the Internet and Web 2.0, emerging technologies, and desktop and laptop chips for Computerworld. Follow Sharon on Twitter at @sgaudin, or subscribe to Sharon's RSS feed . Her email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Google+ popularity jumps with 540M monthly users
- Getting around Google+: 25 tips and tricks for power users
- Getting around Google+: Expand your circles -- and your influence
- Getting around Google+: A guide to the basics
- Google+ updates mobile apps for iPhone, Android
- 500K users flee dead-RSS-walking Google Reader for Feedly
- Petitions plead for Google Reader's life, collect 100K signatures
- In Google+ hangout, astronauts talk tech, Isaac Newton and Twitter
- Obama talks about math, online privacy and an open Internet in Google+ hangout
- Google+ suffers outage Friday morning
Read more about Web Apps in Computerworld's Web Apps Topic Center.
- 15 Non-Certified IT Skills Growing in Demand
- How 19 Tech Titans Target Healthcare
- Twitter Suffering From Growing Pains (and Facebook Comparisons)
- Agile Comes to Data Integration
- Slideshow: 7 security mistakes people make with their mobile device
- iOS vs. Android: Which is more secure?
- 11 sure signs you've been hacked
- Face Time Anytime Real-time communications facilitates team collaboration from nearly anywhere in the world. With facts and figures you can use to justify an investment
- Riverbed Stingray Application Firewall: Securing Cloud Applications with a Distributed Web Application Firewall Responsibility over IT security is moving away from the network and IT infrastructure and to the application and software architecture itself. IT organizations...
- Now is the time to implement a video conference solution Video conferencing is getting a lot of buzz lately due to the recent cost decrease, making it tangible for many law firms. It's...
- Video drives engagement Achieving maximum results means building a solid platform and network infrastructure. As digital age unfolds, it's clear that the ability to communicate effectively...
- Meg Whitman presents Unlocking IT with Big Data During this Web Event you will hear Meg Whitman, President and CEO, HP discuss HAVEn - the #1 Big Data platform, as well...
- The New Way to Work Knowledge Vault This Knowledge Vault focuses on how, in today's increasingly virtual world, it's more important than ever to engage deeply with employees, suppliers, partners,... All Web Apps White Papers | Webcasts