It's the Utility Stupid
Google+ is not a ‘product’ apparently. It’s still a ‘project’. And it’s out in what looks to be a limited beta release as ‘Field Trial’ – but which feels more like a ‘throttled release’ as new users can then start to pass invites on.
Google clearly feels that this is all a work in progress.
However, it doesn’t feel like work in progress. It has hit 10m users in a few short weeks making it one of the fastest growing network launches ever. The interface is clean and slick – and Circles makes the concept of ‘groups’ easy to implement and manage. Even the animation when you add a friend or contact to a group is a great little piece of interactive design.
And there are other features not found elsewhere. ‘Sparks’ looks like it could build into a powerful content recommendation engine, especially once Google+ gains scale. It also provides a good benefit for users to actually ‘Google +1’ content they find or that their friends may like. It could also be strong opportunity to monetize the platform as brands looks to promote their own content.
Hangout’s are fundamentally video chat (though trying to get that to actually work is a little tricky) – and Facebook’s video chat via Skype looks like it could trump that feature right off the bat.
And I suppose that’s the problem with Google+ so far. There’s no killer feature. There’s no compelling reason why this should be my new social network of choice – no reason to give up Facebook. And I don’t need yet another network in my life.
Even Google’s own FAQs include the question “Why don’t you have killer feature X?”.
So far, I wager that a large proportion of Google+’s growth has been driven by its limited access and exclusivity.
It’s the power of scarcity.Continued on the next page