If the early returns keep up, Google might just have found its Facebook (and Twitter) killer. Google+ is expected to go past 10 million users this weekend, with former Overture founder Bill Gross predicting it will reach 100 million faster than any Web service in history. Those are quite a lot of expectations.
To hear Google tell it, the secret sauce of Google+ is that it learned from Facebook’s mistakes — and its own. Facebook has come under plenty of criticism for the real or perceived lack of control users have over the experience. That’s led to all manor of mini-crises, particularly in the realm of personal privacy. Google, meanwhile, has failed to get much traction in social networking, with Orkut a dud except for a couple markets, and the utter failure of Google Wave and Buzz.
“It was intentional for us to start off (Google+) with a ‘j’accuse’ in the face of Facebook, to say this is very different: the user has precision control over who can do what,” said Charles Warren, Google’s lead user experience designer on the project, in a conference call with journalists on Tuesday. “We’ve asked ‘what is the mental model of the type of person that is not sharing on social media, and asked ‘what are ways that we can feel more trustworthy to them. A lot of that has to do with how we handle the UI.”
Warren believes that users will join and share more if they see that their information is protected and siloed according to their preferences, similar to an email just going to the specific address that it is shared to.
According to a recent report on Google+ by Deutsche Bank, investors see Google’s 10 million subscribers and mostly positive reviews as evidence that the company can win consumers over to their vision of social media, while leveraging their status as the provider of two-thirds of online search to build-out a data-driven, social-based advertising ecosystem.
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