It’s been about a month or two when Google+ was announced and almost everyone was buzzing around to get invites (I was lucky to get one within the week of its announcement). However, has anyone actually used it – as in everyday, as a replacement or a complement to their Facebook profile or Twitter account?
I find myself not using it as much. Why? Because, Tweetdeck is on my desktop. I have a Seesmic application on my laptop connected to my Twitter and Facebook profiles. And there’s Google’s problem – there is no API for developers to use.
Yes, I admit I use Google all the time. And I know, you can update your statuses on the top bar. However, it is more an afterthought when sharing my ideas. I have TweetDeck open every day, looking at the status feeds of who I follow, and manage the multiple Twitter feeds for Cupertino Loop, Pwnage, Gadgetlyst and the main site (and yes, that was a subtle promotion – you should follow them). For TweetDeck, I can press a button, type in my little status and press enter. It’s right there, and I can actually communicate there as well.
Google+, however, requires me to go online to its website or go to a Google property and get redirected there. It is not as simple as how TweetDeck has made it for Twitter.
Now, Google has said that the API is coming out soon, but it should be out now – especially when apps have been created already, hacking their own way into the code. The thing is, Google+ is a great product from Google in the social networking scene – especially when their other two, Buzz and Orkut have failed. It doesn’t suffer like Wave where no one in the god damn world knew how to use it, but it could face the same exodus as Wave – where everyone has an account, but no one is using it.
Having an API would mean that people are not torn between the three social services and can be managed very easily with a single application. It would mean that I can post personal stuff on Facebook, interesting things on Google+ and my commentary on Twitter, especially on Q & A on ABC1. It will allow cross-posting without the need of copying and pasting and also allow people to be notified instantly rather having to visit the site, allowing a quicker response to a comment or message.
But most importantly, an API would mean that people would be interacting with Google+. Obviously indirectly, but it is still interacting with it.
Instead, the company has decided put games in order to attract. However, while it increases usage, it doesn’t actually do what you want the product to essentially do – communicate, like every social network is meant to do. Gaming extends communication between two or more parties, but does not replace it. Why? Because, it’s more like a one-sided conversation, unlike a two-sided or multiple-sided communication with comments or video chat.
Granted, Google+’s attractiveness is still there, but for me it squarely focuses ontheir Hangout feature, where it allows you to video chat with multiple people for free. Skype, the one I use to mainly conduct meetings, makes you pay for that. But what’s so important about video chat? It’s about the face-to-face nature of it. You can see their reactions and expressions on the ideas, rather than just hearing them. However, once Skype decides to make this free (and not put any ads in it), then we could see Google+ no longer necessary, as Skype is an application, where you can have a shortcut, whereas Google+ is a website you need to open a browser and then follow these steps to implement it.
Just before you point it out – there are already mobile applications for it. Official ones for Android and the iOS. But what about Windows Phone 7? WebOS? MeeGo? Symbian? Focusing on the majority does alienate the minority – tech people do use the two, but many others who don’t follow technology or just have a phone because it was simply available on their carrier won’t be able to share their ideas from their mobiles.
And, just to cover my tracks, HTML5 is not a perfect substitute as is means there is no place to be notified on updates.
The API would allow the community to fill in the gaps in Google+’s mobile strategy. Look at WordPress, teams of developers from all around the world are helping building applications for the blogging platform where bloggers now own smartphone and some professional bloggers (like us) require editing on the go, or even blogging breaking news from the handy smartphone. All of these are doing it for free, and all the code is of course open source, meaning that people can easily add and fix things without restrictions. The WordPress application is available for iOS, Android, Windows Phone 7, BlackBerry, most Nokia smartphones and the Palm WebOS. Compare that to Google’s strategy, and you can obviously find that WordPress’ strategy is far more successful.
Google needs to let developers tinker with Google+ now. It’s about time to create some applications in order to maximise the potential of the service. Otherwise, it will go the way like Wave and become a shadow of its former self.
It would be a shame for it to die, but without an API, it will.