Bob Moon: If you think about it, Google is kind of like a math whiz: knowledgeable on searching the web with fancy algorithms, but weak on social skills. For seven years now, the company has been struggling to get a social network off the ground. It launched Wave — which no one could understand. Google Buzz set off all sorts of privacy alarms. And Orkut. Yeah, who even heard of it?
Today it is trying once more. Just as Myspace is finally being unloaded at a fire-sale price by News Corp., Google is trying again to face off against Facebook. This time, with something it’s calling Google+.
Marketplace’s Steve Henn takes a look.
Steve Henn: Google+ offers social feeds and lets you post pictures. It pushes news or videos your way that Google thinks you might like. So here’s the plus: it lets you group your friends into circles and control what they see.
Steven Levy is author of Inside the Plex: How Google Thinks, Works and Shapes Our Lives.
Steven Levy: Every time you share something on Facebook — unless you really work hard to limit it — you pretty much have to share it with everyone or no one at all.
OK, so limits on over-sharing. The other pluses? A 10-way video chat called Hangout. There is also something called Huddle, which lets you message a group of friends all at once.
But will all those little pluses add up to the millions of users Google needs to succeed as a social network?
Josh Bernoff: Well I think Google+ is perhaps the most promising of all the things Google has rolled out so far. Of course, that’s faint praise given all the flops.
Josh Bernoff is at Forrester Research. He and Levy say Google execs are terrified they’ve missed the social wave. Americans now spend more time on Facbeook than any other site, and advertisers there know exactly who they are talking to.
Levy : Google is not in its comfortable position of throwing a lead pass and going where no one else is, but chasing taillights, as one executive called it.
Google is intent on not being left behind. So today at Google, every single employee’s bonus — no matter what the job — is tied to the company’s success going social.
In Silicon Valley, I’m Steve Henn for Marketplace.
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