Google+ – are Google finally getting there?

Google+ – are Google finally getting there?

Google’s various prior attempts at social networking have all hit the buffers for various reasons – Open Social relied on cooperation from the likes of Facebook (never happened), Google Wave never really did enough, and Google Buzz went outside of most people’s privacy comfort zone.

So what of the new Google+? Still in ‘field trial’ (read beta) at the time of writing, Google+ adds a new concept – Circles – rather like a mix of ‘friending’ from Facebook and ‘following’ from Twitter. Circles are groups of friends that you can use to echo your real social circles — for example, family, work colleagues, personal friends  — rather than just the list of friends you have on Facebook with whom you have to share all of your updates.

On Google+, you can select and send items to different circles, and you can rapidly switch among the news streams of your various circles.

You can also have circles for people you don’t really know but whose content you want to follow — such as musicians, sportspeople, authors or celebrities. This is somewhat like Twitter’s ‘follow’ feature.

Access is currently invitation-only, though the number of users has reportedly already risen to above 20 million and climbing fast. Time will tell whether the marketing possibilities of Google+ will rival those currently available in Facebook and Twitter – but Google have promised relevant tools and APIs, though there is no current detail other than ‘watch this space’.

We’re watching.