Sunday, July 1, 2012

Google+ API: why not now?

Earlier I've written about Google+ becoming a good social news source for me.  With introduction of Explore tab, I could find interesting things getting shared on Google+.  That is enough for me to spend time on Google+, although the curated content are not custom-tailored for my interest graph.  I guess I fit the user persona that Google+ is targeting, geeky young male adults (I had to hesitate a few seconds before I used 'young' to describe my persona...).

For me Google+ is social news source.

All the arrows are pointing to Google+ platform;
then why not more open API to point content sources to it?

None of my pre-Web2.0 friends (you know, friends that you had to actually meet once in a while to call them friends) are active on Google+.  Hence Google+ is not going to be personal social network of my choice any time soon.

When I look at Google+, I see the following strength:

1. Geeky, more technical audience

2. Thoughtful content from geeky audience and vast content source from YouTube and Blogger

3. Powerful, proven analytics

What should be noted is that each of these strengths appeals to different stakeholders in Google+ ecosystem.  

#1 is interesting to technology companies.  Those businesses want to reach out to geeks and early adopters who are willing to interact with their product and get engaged.

#2 is what draws users into Google+.  Without interesting stuff to see, I won't spend time on Google+ because I see no reason to spend time on Google+.

#3 is important to marketers.  This is one area that Google has perfected their art from their search engine and keyword advertisement days.  Marketer understands Google Analytics and would love to see all the data in social space to tweak their messaging strategy.

But it seems Google has no clear idea of what Google+ should do for the user yet.  I was disappointed to hear Bradley Horowitz describing Google+'s focus as 1) establishing single identity for users so that social can be extended to all web experience and 2) contextual dialogue and privacy during fireside chat with the Google+ Platform team at Google I/O 2012.

That's great idea for Google.  But not sure how it will be great idea for Google+ users.  Combining all Google service data to create single identity creates privacy concern against Google.  All of sudden I feel like Google knows too much about me.

"So what is the mission statement for Google+?
What is it actually solving?" (24:30)
Bradley Horowitz answers it with 5-min long narrative.

I'm afraid Google may is taking too cautious approach to tweaking with Google+.  When talking to auditorium-full of developers, panelists were not able to come up with one problem that Google+ can solve now for users.

Google+'s strength is content.  It does not yet have social graph.  Google has to figure out a way to leverage content and start building social graph and activities.  One sure way to get that started is to allow easier flow of content, and that means open API.  I think Google+ is missing the opportunity while Facebook and Twitter are getting ahead.

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