Google+ challenges Facebook in social network battle

Online search giant Google has launched a new social networking website in its latest attempt to take on Facebook, which now claims more than 500m users.

Google+ allows individuals to share photos, messages and comments but also integrates the company’s maps and images into the service.

It also aims to help users easily organise contacts within groups.

But some analysts say Google has simply reproduced features of Facebook while adding a video chat function.

Google, which handles roughly two out of every three internet searches in the US, has taken several stabs at Facebook in recent years.

But its previous efforts ended in failure, with both Google Wave and Google Buzz proving unpopular with users.

New functions

The company is now boasting that four features in Google+ could help make the company a permanent player in social networking:

  • Circles – a functionality that allows individuals to place friends into groups, allowing users to share different forms of content with targeted clusters of friends
  • Hangouts – live multi-user video conferencing that permits friends to drop in and out of live group conversations
  • Huddle – group instant messaging
  • Sparks – a feature that connects individuals on the network to others with common interests.

The current version of Google+ has only been released to a small number of users, but the company has said it soon hopes to make the social network available to the millions of individuals that use its services each day.

“Online sharing needs a serious re-think, so it’s time we got started,” Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said in a press release.

“Other social networking tools make selective sharing within small groups difficult,” she added, taking what appears to be a jab at Facebook’s recent grouping function.

But some analysts have said Google could have a difficult time converting Facebook devotees to their new social network.

“People have their social circles on Facebook – asking them to create another social circle is challenging,” Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst with research firm eMarketer, told the Associated Press news agency.

“The whole idea of a Google social network… they’ve been throwing stuff against the wall for several years and so forth nothing has stuck,” she added.

In April, Google reached an out-of-court settlement with a US policy group over its rollout out Google Buzz, a previous social effort.

The legal action claimed Google deceived users and violated its own privacy policy by automatically enrolling all Gmail users in its Buzz social network without seeking prior permission.



One response to “Google+ challenges Facebook in social network battle

  1. Google sees ‘insane’ demand for invites to its Google+ social network

    Google has closed invitations to join its new Facebook-style social network just a day after it launched, after it received “insane” levels of demand for the service.

    The search giant rolled Google+ out to a small cadre of users on Tuesday, much as it did when it launched its Gmail email service, but what was intended as a “limited” launch turned into a frenzy for invitations.

    Each user was given around a dozen invitations to pass on to friends and family, in order to test the social networking capabilities of the site, and on Wednesday Google handed “thousands” more invitations to people to join the service.

    However, the invitations were quickly suspended. Google’s head of social, Vic Gundotra, said on the site: “We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way.”

    People unable to get their hands on an invitation that worked took to Twitter today to share loopholes which would help them gain access.

    Google has made several failed attempts to launch a social networking service in the past, including Google Buzz and Google Wave, but the initial response to Google+ by those that have used it suggests it will fare much better.

    It is seen as the company’s most serious challenge to Facebook yet. Both social networking sites do a similar job but Google+ uses a system of “circles” which makes it easier to differentiate between social groups and to filter information by audience.

    However, Google played down the impact of the initial demand and said Tuesday’s launch was just a preliminary roll out ahead of a bigger unveiling further down the line.

    “This is the Google+ Project. We still haven’t launched Google+ in its entirety. It’s not that the service crashed and melted. We just want to keep it controlled,” a spokesman said.


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