Google+ has broken Google’s SNS (Social Networking Site) curse. That is what many are saying and I strongly agree. I was one of those few people who actually understood—saw the potential—and was very fond of Google Wave. This was one of Google’s projects that many say was ”the beginning of the decline of their social network ideology”. But it has been my experience that, as innovating as Google is, they are not in the business of creating anything new. What they are best at is taking an old idea and presenting in a clean, organized way with an innovating approach.
They were not the first search engine, they were not the first email service provider, they were not the first Online Maps service provider. Even the idea of “Circles” is something that has been done before. We have seen Twitter Lists and Facebook Contact Groups. Even Canada’s Athabasca University, an online and distance learning university, has been using a similar approach to Circles using their open source SNS. However, these are just a few of the technology markets where they are (silently arguable) leaders of innovation and almost untouchable.
So taking Google’s history into account, why is it that many feel like Google Plus is incomplete or lacking features. The truth? Because they are.
Google is testing users’ reaction to G+ and holding back many tools and features for many reasons. I predict these tools will focus on migrating from all your social networks and social tools to Google Plus. Evidence of this is their usual approach to providing APIs for Google Plus. Google has many projects where the API is available months before the service is even available. There are many reasons why they do this: one being that they want developers to jump on the the coding band wagon on the first day said service or tool is released. One such tool is Google Big Query. Many developers don’t even know about this super powerful tool. Yet their documentation and API docs are all available. If you are lucky, you might even get a trial version of the tool.
So where are my developer tools for Google Plus? I mean, does Google know that creating internal apps for Social Networking Sites has been around for too long for them not to have this available? Are they aware that Yahoo easily integrates with Twitter and Facebook such that I can import my contacts and sync my Yahoo address book with those contacts? Did it occur to anyone in Google that we might want to import our hundreds of albums and thousands of photos from our previous SNS with the click of a button (or two)? And how the hell are we suppose to remember our Google+ personal web address without vanity URLs? Are they aware that all major SNS and social tools have simple to remember URLs? The answer to all these questions is simply:
Duh! Of course!
It is very likely that their bizarre “incognito” approach to providing Google Plus developer tools, is directly related to the fact that they do not want developers to invest time creating tools and features for it; because Google themselves will be rolling them out.
I already have a list compiled of features that Google is lacking as a SNS. Many of these involve: migration, integration and syndication. By the time the Google Plus API becomes public, I am sure most of what’s on the list will already be incorporated in the tools and features Google themselves will be providing along with the G+ API. However, being able to fill in the gaps in-between these features, is something I look forward to.
So, to those who think that Google still hasn’t won because they lack the customary methods to SNS—import tools, vanity URLs and other basic SNS features…just wait. Think about it, despite these “flaws” Google+ is gaining a lot of traction. Where will they be once they finish rolling out more SNS features and the social tools that Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare posses, but applied with that Google innovation magic?