Friday, 5 August 2011

Why Google is still up in the clouds

Google is a smart, slick organisation and the launch of Google+ demonstrates they’ve put their nouse together with the lessons learnt from previous Social Media launches.

While Google Buzz and Wave were greeted with expectation, they flattered to deceive and became moribund very quickly.

Many of the criticism of the poor interactivity, the lack of applications, the difficulty of friend finding have been addressed with Google+. It’s closer to what one might have expected the first time when Google Wave was announced as a social media game changer.

But we’re over a year on from that time and social media has continued to develop, entrench their audience and gain mainstream acknowledgement.

The problem with Google is they’re chasing other social media and trying to blend the two. Most social media has been developed independently for purposes which are vastly different to their end use.

Twitter was a way for surf dude friends to check the sea conditions and which beaches people were going to. Facebook was a virtual year book system.

Equally, the rise and fall of social media has been sudden and difficult to predict. The loss of MySpace and Bebo show how fickle the industry can be when they find a new way to interact.

Not content with mashing existing social media, Google have also been looking to control how Google+ is being used. They are ensuring that it is a personal user experience, free from corporate or brand led accounts, which have led to accounts being suspended.

It will be interesting to see how industry gets round Googles rules. The adult industry is often the first to find a way. Will the breakout video rooms by full of young ladies who are desperate for a chat? Or will Google shut them down for being unsuitable.

I just feel that no successful social media can grow through interference and controlling how the users want to use the system.

But Google seem to be looking beyond the current and seem to be creating a platform that will be of importance in three to five years time.

Google+ sits as one of a number of tabs on a personal account page for Google. It has no prominence or priority in the navigation over a whole plethora of applications.

Far from being the big part of the offering, it’s a new service branching off the already heavy portfolio of services.

So why is this the case? What seems to be happening is a move towards cloud computing. Buy a laptop, install Chrome and you can run virtually everything without even muttering the name Microsoft.

Google docs, mail and chrome manage your documents, email and internet browsing. Google+ adds in Skype like connectivity and social media channels, with the ability to link pictures and videos stored on YouTube and Picasa. The data is held remotely along with the software keeping operating speeds high, as long as you’ve got a good broadband connection.

Bearing this in mind, it is odd that they aren’t looking at the SMEs who would love this sort of cheap and easy system. May be they are looking at creating a bundle package for consumers further down the road, ending the ad related business model.

Attracting them in and locking their data into the system could lead to long term loyal customers, like the overdrafts offered to students that are hard to clear once the real bank charges kick in after graduation.

The cloud’s the key, and it’ll be interesting to see how it develops in the future.

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