It is official; Google has made it in the world of social networks. After countless failures, the likes of Buzz and Wave, Google+ has hit ten million users in a short period of two weeks.
It seems that user feedback is overwhelmingly positive once you get passed the initial “I don’t get why I need this in addition to Facebook”, “Google copied Twitter”, and “Checking this out but so far, I don’t get it” updates.
Of course, by now it is clear to all of us that for a social network to make it, its mobile implementation has to play a very central role in its growth. The following are five steps Google must implement immediately for its growth spurt to continue into the major leagues of Twitter and Facebook who have millions of mobile users:
- API: Just today we saw the first iPhone app offer access to Google+. The problem is that it is a workaround and we will not be seeing many more apps enable you to post on Google+ so long as Google does not release it’s API for Google+. Of course, Google probably wants to release its own iPhone app in addition to the already existing Android app before it opens up the API for 3rd party apps, but the success of Google+ very much depends on other apps accessing the API.
- iPhone App: With 200 million devices running iOS, Google is not naïve enough to believe its Android app, no matter how great it might be, is enough to bring the social network into the major leagues. In fact, Google has already submitted its Google+ app to Apple for approval. This was two weeks ago and still nothing. As of now, all iOS users are forced to access Google+ via the HTML5 Web app. Now as much as HTML5 might be the future for Web apps, the Google+ app is sorely lacking many features, and is very buggy at times. This cannot go on and Google has to pull a few strings over at Cupertino to get its app on the fast lane into the App Store. This is a must, and every day that this does not happen, means a whole lot of users ditching the idea of Google+ and going back to Facebook and Twitter.
- Cross Platform: Google+, as the new kid on the block, has to stand out. While the Android app is impressive and the iPhone app is on the way, when are we going to see Google+ apps for BlackBerry, Nokia, WebOS, and even QNX. What is QNX you ask? It is the OS that the BlackBerry Playbook runs on and guess what it is missing? A solid Twitter app. Creating a free cross-platform app for Google+ might help Google separate itself from the other players in the social game. Yes, there are already Twitter and Facebook apps for most mobile Oss but only a few platforms have official apps created by Facebook and Twitter itself. An official Google+ app for every mobile operating system in the mobile landscape will really give Google the lead it very much needs in the mobile space.
- Data Portability to and From: One of the most problematic issues with Facebook and even Twitter is data portability (ever try backing up your Twitter lists?). Google knows this and included a simple option to “liberate” your Google+ data at the click of a button. Google did not do this out of the kindness of their heart, they did it to differentiate themselves from their competition. Except for Google+ to really take off, users are going to need to easily sync their data from Google+ to their mobile phones, as well as vice versa. Google should also be looking for a way to cooperate with the other social giants the likes of Facebook and Twitter to easily sync users’ data from those services to and from Google+. Although, something tells me, our friend Zuckerberg won’t jump from excitement when such a proposal is raised by Google.
- Integration with Other Apps: Here is the thing with the social Web; there are a lot of players and everyone is competing with everyone. As a user, do I update my status on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, or LinkedIn? Do I check in on Foursquare, GoWalla, Facebook Places or using some other less known service? All these social players are fighting each other at the expense of the user and are essentially shooting themselves in the foot. If Google offers a mobile app that integrates other services such as Foursquare, Twitter, FB, Quora: (yes, I know this is a far fetched dream), the barrier of choosing one service provider for all your social or check in needs would be knocked down and users, by the millions would migrate from the Facebook or Twitter app to Google+. That is sure to increase the virality of the newest and most exciting social network on the Web.
It is just a matter of time before most if not all of the steps mentioned above are implemented by Google, which means one thing. Google+ is on its way to making a huge impact on the Web and the world of social media.
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