Hopes for Better User Experience: Rise of Google+
By Ralf Skirr.
What are you going to do if something you invested time and effort on starts controlling you instead? Of course, you will surely start looking for alternatives that give you freedom and privacy! That is exactly the driving force of people who have left Facebook and started broadening their networks through Google+.
Facebook has, for years, enjoyed monopoly over the social networking market. MySpace is continuously plummeting, and smaller networks like Orkut and Hi5 have yet to gain popularity and appeal as strong as Facebook. With such power, Facebook implemented a lot of changes—some excellent, some good, and some seemingly bad. Although Facebook users enjoyed and endured the changes, with a new player out to steal the scene, it seems that the tides are starting to turn.
Last June 28, Google+ is finally launched. With a year spent in its making, Google+ promises more control, more targeted search, and more privacy for users. While Facebook allows users to control who can view their photos, videos, and the like, the latest annual report from ForeSee Results indicates that users are finding greener grass on Google+; in other words, Facebook is now becoming just a second option. There are a lot of reasons why users are now thinking that Google+ will provide them with better services, but probably one of the biggest factors is that it currently offers a more private and personal network.
ForeSee Results further noted that Facebook is currently at the bottom 6% of the 2011 American Consumer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). ACSI is a renowned and respected economic indicator established in 1994 that, as the name implies, measures the satisfaction of American consumers with regards to goods and services. Annually interviewing 80,000 Americans, it has easily become a reliable source for academic researchers, market analysts, corporations, investors, and government agencies–as well as individuals who wants to constantly be at the top of their games like us.
Now, with Facebook being left behind by its competitors as proven by ACSI, specialists speculated a big impact on how Google+ will be welcomed, and indeed, it turned out that a big space was left for Google+ to penetrate and leave a strong impression.
Google+ Launch and Growth
Since its launch, Google+ has experienced a boom in its member base. Within 10 days, it has reached 2 million members. By July 18, it has reached 18 million members, and on July 21, barely 3 weeks after its launch, its member count has already reached 25 million. Although this number is not yet on the official releases and is simply insider information as cited on SFGate, the steady increase in member count and activities as well as the constant flow of feedbacks is proving to be a good sign.
As of this writing, Google+ is still in beta mode and has currently restricted access even to those who already received invitations (Google+ works on an invitation-only access). This is because it has already exceeded its capacity—indeed a sign of the successful launch of Google+.
Critics are describing Google+ as a Facebook-style Google network. However, Google+ has some unique features that definitely make it stand out. Three of its notable features are Circles, Hangouts, and Sparks. What are these features for?
- Circles- this groups your contacts (e.g., family, co-workers, etc.) and allows you to share items with them through various Google products, services, and platforms.
- Hangouts- this features lets you have a group video chat (with 10 maximum participants). Only people who you invite or posses the unique Hangout URL can join.
- Sparks- Sparks make searching for topics you’re interested in a lot easier.
Google+ is still in its baby stage right now, but it certainly has a big potential to succeed. With its current statistics and its continuously growing popularity, Google+ might just outshine Facebook faster than we might think possible, just like how Facebook has easily grabbed the spotlight from MySpace before.