Google upped the ante with Google+, their social networking platform that looks to compete directly with Facebook. Boasting familiar features such as the Stream (aka newsfeed), red pop-up notifications and the ability to share pictures, comments and status updates, Google+ transforms the classic search engine into a social network, with "plus one" features for search results and heavy rebranding of many other Google products, including Picasa, which will be renamed "Google Photos," and Blogger, which will become "Google Blogs." That isn't to say that Plus doesn't include some cool features: our favorites include Hangouts, which allows video chatting with up to ten people, and an embedded image-editing service.
In effect, Google+ will be the integration of its various products and services, tied together neatly across one social platform. Google+ is currently accessible only via invite, which means that currently, Plus is ghost town with very little interaction in comparison to the bustling Facebook. (If you're dying for a peek inside, you can check out the demo here.) And the reaction across the blogosphere has been mixed. Some love it; others see it as a Facebook knock-off. Still others predict that Plus will follow in the footsteps of the failed Google Wave, last year's real-time communication platform that was rolled out and quickly disbanded by the search engine giant.
Indeed, Google is stepping into precarious territory: few social media platforms have managed to compete with Facebook, including Google's own Google Buzz, which was riddled with privacy issues and bad press from the get-go. And for Plus to succeed, it will have to go head-to-head with Facebook, which means convincing Facebook users to switch over to the Plus platform. But if Google has learned anything from its own competition with Microsoft's search engine Bing, it should know that simply matching an established product (or even improving upon it slightly) isn't enough to draw users from the pre-existing product. In fact, the most followed person on Plus is not Google CEO Larry Page, but Facebook's Mark Zuckerburg.
So we're reserving judgement on Google+. Social media revolution or major flop? Only time will tell. What do you think about Google's latest social platform? Let us know in the comments!