Can Google+ be a Facebook killer?

Last Saturday I got an invitation for Google+ and I spent some of my time to explore and evaluate this new social network. In this post I will try to highlight what I like (+1) and what I miss (-1) from Google+ just before launched.

Google+ Welcome Page

What I liked (+1) most:

  • User’s +1’s tab is my favourite!! It is one of the best ways to recommend links to your network. It is there, on your Search Engine, it is simple and it is very very powerful!! I like it!
  • You don’t spam others’ walls (or applications won’t do that for you),at least I hope it will not
  • You can control completely the visibility of your status, at the moment you post it
  • You can edit a comment after you have published them
  • You can mention people that exist on your Google Contacts, even if they are outside the platform (they get notified). This makes it very powerful for Android users (or iPhone users who sync their contacts with Google, like me)
  • You can follow people without needed to confirm a connection; a Twitter approach on a social network might not be so clear and easily acceptable by Facebook users, but allows people to state their connections semantically correctly and I believe it might be a winning point
  • You can format your messages (bold, italics etc.)
  • I liked the albums outline
  • During the “share” process, the initial source of the message is mentioned (credits to the right person)
  • Hangout may look useless at the moment (small community), but it is something more than just a video call. It looks like Chatroullete , but it is definitely more social than just a Skype call. “People that may be bored, have opened their camera to volunteers” I would say in one phrase
  • I liked the relative and useful  Chrome plugins that started to pop out from the community!!! Like +PhotoZoom
What I missed (-1) most:
  • The anticipated “-1” itself!! Maybe it is not socially wise to allow a negative marking, maybe it is not good for marketing reasons and  definitely I believe Google has considered to use it here, but I think users are going to use it more and more on this platform rather than on Facebook, maybe because it is more clear, short and less powerful than a “dislike”. “-1” will be here even if Google wants it or not!
  • Pages!! Of course it is on a testing phase, but Pages is one of the fundamental  features of Facebook’s success. Companies spend a lot of money to attract fans, and they want to know how they will find Google+ Users at the moment of platform’s launch! Is it going to be Places? If so, I want to see Places integrated to the platform soon.
  • Easy data transition! Facebook allows to download your data, so does Google+. But why a vast, mainstream user would leave his/her albums, friends or even likes behind and start from scratch?!? At the extend a user can export his data, I expect from Google to allow data uploading ! I consider this a critical issue.
BUT Google has a hidden Ace: they have access to mobile devices (the new Personal Computers) with Android and to netbooks with the upcoming Chromebook. Google is going to be the Apple of Social Networking, with solid product packages and vertical user experience. At least for the technical community, this is going to be appreciated.
Despite all these new features, and many others to anticipate from such an innovative company (especially on Android), the winning point will be to build a big and passionate Community. I like Google+ a lot, most of my friends like it too, but Google+ must focus on non tech-savvy users. Google must make transition simple and the innovation more bold! Only then they have chances to challenge Facebook. Otherwise they are going to be just a “Bing” engine of the social networks… 
Let the battle begin!
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