Emily Tan
Jun 29, 2011

Google+ set to challenge Facebook, Skype, and cloud providers

GLOBAL - After several hesitant forays into the world of social media, Google has rolled out its most comprehensive social offering yet — Google+.

Google+ is the search giant's comprehensive social media platform.
Google+ is the search giant's comprehensive social media platform.

With features like social sharing, chat and video conferencing, the new platform appears to challenge not only Facebook, but Skype, Twitter and even Microsoft and Apple's cloud offerings.

According to Google's official blog, Google+ is still in "field trial" stage and is only available to a select invited few. From the video, the site looks accessible from the general Google search page via the button "+You" which will feature on Google's redesigned navigation bar.

Built around four main offerings, Google+ can be broken down as follows:

Circles - This function directly challenges Facebook, allowing users to categorise contacts into specific groups, and tailor content and privacy settings to each.

Sparks - Google Reader and Buzz combined. Users subscribe to news and information and share links. Again, instead of spamming a general feed, it can restrict content to only friends who are interested, or, like Twitter, users can also opt to follow the feeds of people they don't know.

Hangouts - Live group conversations. While this appears entirely casual it can easily be used to organise video conferences, which could challenge Skype's supremacy in this area.

Mobile - This takes on quite a few rival services. Location allows users to tag their locale in every post, sharing, announcement or message and is clearly walking on Foursquare's turf. Instant Upload overlaps Apple's iCloud and Microsoft's cloud offerings, at least in the photo-sharing front. Pictures snapped on a user's phone can be automatically uploaded, with permission, to an online storage cache on Google Plus.

While none of these is necessarily unique in its own right, Google looks to have created an all-in-one platform. The new service appears to span just about everything online audiences do on social media and addresses issues such as privacy controls. Its success however will depend on it picking up sufficient numbers from already popular and well-used social media platforms.


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