Google+, the Gmail experiment and what Google should do about it

Google+ is another social experiment by Google, followed by their past projects of a similar nature Google Wave and Orkut. I have been a beta user for the past two weeks and I fear this is going to be another failure, if we consider Facebook to be the hallmark for success right now. Here’s my take on this.

I was a beta user on both past experiments; where Orkut was concerned, I hated the clutter on profile pages and its privacy controls or lack thereof. Perhaps I never really setup those correctly however, I got two emails a day asking for random people to befriend me. I hated it, then marked it as spam and hardly ever used it.

Then I went and bought a PSP and got stuck at a level in Marvel Ultimate Alliance. They had a Facebook page and voila, I signed up there. I was out of college/university and not in US at the time. There was no body from my friends, family or even the acquaintance circle on it. Only people from the US and here I was; an IT pro on Facebook looking for a pointer or two on a game! So why did i use it? I loved the clean look, the profile structure and that I did not have to answer a series of questions to have a decent profile. Not at all. It was easy to setup and I didn’t have peer pressure to make a profile and upload pictures since I did not know anybody on it. This was in 2006 when nobody in my friends, family or social circle had a profile on Facebook. They were all over on Orkut, Friendster and MySpace. I didn’t mind, I kept coming back to it anyway and finally when Facebook released their APIs and I had Facebook apps to play with, it was great simply to login and just play. Family and friends eventually joined in and I have kept it alive mostly to follow my cousins, my relatives and friends who are all over the world now. I reconnected with my school and college friends as well and for most of the time, I don’t regret keeping my account alive.

Then we had Google wave; my, that created a small ripple across the pond and capsized in its initial days. I won’t even get into what was wrong since everything about it was off.

What I do have to share about all these experiments together is this. If there is something about a service that I find useful then I will use it. Facebook gave me the fan page for my MUA game and later access to so many people who joined in. Hence I keep my relationship alive with it. Orkut did not give me anything useful and while it was an invite only service not many people were using it. Googlewave wanted to be too exclusive hence again the lack of people using it was a major roadblock to its adaptability. With Google+, it seems Google still has not learn’t its biggest mistake from Orkut and Wave days; keeping it from people. Why not let people who are interested, signup and join in from the first day? They can let it run in beta and announce downtimes to keep people from getting frustrated so much. I frankly think that Google thinks it can do the Gmail experiment successfully again; forgetting that it was a success mostly because everyone was tired of Hotmail and Yahoo and their restrictions on account sizes and policies. When internet broadband became mainstream and easily accessible, no one wants a restricted mailbox! People are beginning to tire out of Facebook too; thanks to their privacy policy and obvious disregard to religious racism.

There is the possibility of so much good here, I simply hate the thought that the service might be over before it starts.

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