Google may have been dragging its heels, but today they finally opened up their Plus social network to the world. No more invites, no more paying top dollar on Ebay to get your social fix, it’s available to all and sundry.
The more observant of you may also have noticed that the Google have updated the header on their SERPs. As such there is now a ‘+You’ tab (unless you already have an account, in which case it will have your first name), which takes you directly to your profile. Invariably this kind of integration across Google platforms will become more prevalent and could well be pivotal in its distribution.
I won’t go into too much detail as to what Google + actually offers, but if you want more information you can read my earlier post on who it poses a threat to. Instead I want to take a look at why this is such an important step and what it could mean for the future.
Facebook was born out of a similar limited distribution. Albeit this was more out of necessity, but initially it grew a core following in a select network of American universities, before then branching out to other educational establishments and then finally going public. Google don’t exactly have limitations when it comes to server capacity, finances or overall revenue as most start-ups do. However, what Google does have is a chequered history of social failures.
As such it would appear that they were being extra careful when it came to unleashing Google+. The invite only system frustrated some and deterred others (myself included), but ultimately it gave them time to see how the network functioned, where problems arose and ultimately enabled a smoother Beta roll-out.
Now whether all bugs have been ironed out remains to be seen. The early momentum that Google had appears to have slowed somewhat though, so it was essential that they didn’t allow this to become another Wave – losing all relevance before it has even gone public. Now whether they can pick up the pace and the followers to challenge their existing rivals remains to be seen. But with SERPs integration, +1 bookmarking and a decent platform of users it stands a good chance.
What will be interesting to monitor is the user levels. When it was first announced people clambered for an invite. Due to the limited invite process though, it has been difficult to judge expansion and future potential. Now that it’s open and visible, no such excuse exists. If nobody signs up, Google will have failed again. If there is a massive upsurge in account sign-ups, Twitter and Facebook may find themselves looking over their shoulder.
If you want to join, just visit Google and click on the You+ tab in the top left of the screen, otherwise just search for Google+ and you should be inundated with options. Watch this space for any future news.
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