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Hanging out at Google

July 05, 2011

Friday was a happening day on the web. Something made a lot of people curious and excited. For many, something got better. Google’s brand new social media network called Google+ opened its Beta doors to users all over the world. The response was so overwhelming that Vic Gundotra, Google’s VP Engineering said, “We’ve shut down invite mechanism for the night. Insane demand. We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!

I was one of the few who made it in, and so far I can tell, Google+ is off to a good start, far better than Google’s previous efforts, Google Wave and Google Buzz. From privacy to flexibility and design, Google+ seems to ‘get it’.

As Matt Warman, the Consumer Technology Editor at Daily Telegraph (UK) said to me for Dawn.com, “Google+ is much more than a new version of Buzz – it’s the beginnings of integrating social networking into every service that Google offers. So search, documents, email and all Google’s major ideas are, from now on, going to have a social element.” The web is buzzing with questions and remarks on whether Facebook and Twitter will be at loss with Google+, but it’ll be an over-estimator to state anything like that at this point. Especially when we see how Social Media is getting more collaborative than separative.

“It’s early days – Facebook doesn’t need to feel threatened yet, but Google+ is soon going to offer games and all the ‘time-wasting’ options that have made the world’s biggest social network so successful. When it all comes together – when Circles, for instance, is mainstream – then Google+ has the makings of a step change in Google’s place in the web,” adds Matt Warman.

According to a presentation done by CIO Pakistan there are about 1.9 million Twitter users and 2-2.8 million unique visitors from Pakistan on Facebook who generate about 600 million page views. With this capacity if more than 4.4 million Pakistanis are logged into Facebook, how many of them will really be willing to take on well with the rather new Google+?

Badar Khushnood, Google’s Country representative of Pakistan, mentioned while we were discussing scope of social media and blogging in Pakistan with a tech group, that Google+ has indeed a huge potential. With about 22 million Internet users, Badar says Pakistan is one of the leading thorough followers of Google products, e.g: most web publishers here use Google AdSence and other products for their online presence and promotions. The best holder for Google+ would be its capability to Integrate. With all your Mail, Photo, Documents and Google Reader etc in one place, you don’t have to jump into another medium to share it. Google+ is already integrated into the navigation bar at the top right of Google products; letting you monitor all your Google+ events (updates, messages, etc.) while you directly share content with friends without ever having to jump around all over the web.

Badar Khushnood pointed out a tremendous feature called Take Out, which enables you to create your backup in transferable data anytime you want. This data can be downloaded or transferred to any other social medium in case you’d want to switch to another network or go back to your old. So if you don’t like it here, you can take all your friends, photos, contacts and messages back to another network. 

What you’ll love most about Google+ is that it could differentiate itself swiftly by making itself the destination for virtual hangouts. This group video chat feature can incredibly cater diverse business and informal social video experiences and could easily evolve in many ways. It crosses the boundaries and limitations that Skype users had to face and has built in smart sensors that enhance your video chat experience. 

Rabia Garib, Editor in Chief of CIO Pakistan puts it right; “The concept of not having to network within one site, and open the entire web to it, makes more sense. The downside, however, is that the content may not get as much attention as it does on Facebook’s singular location. But just like "let’s Google it" has become synonymous for search, "let’s Facebook it" has become synonymous for sharing content with a network. Google+ and Facebook could operate in tandem. I doubt they will be able to ‘steal’ each others users.”

While most experts find optimism in Google+’s capacity to amalgamate options and other Google products together in one place, making it a port for all your communications to take off from, I find Circles the most rocking and sundry, where I can distribute my customized communication business and friendship-wise!

Kiran Nazish is a freelance journalist and an interactive reporter.

The views expressed by this blogger and in the following reader comments do not necessarily reflect the views and policies of the Dawn Media Group.