Recently Google made headlines when it began requiring people to post comments on Youtube from their Google+ accounts (and if you didn’t have one, why of course you should make one). This week they made news again by showing the first signs of merging their second most popular service, Gmail, with one of their least popular services, Google+.
The internet has no shortage of reactors and detractors, or people grandstanding about using cookie tricks or changing to alternate services entirely.
Personally I find Google’s moves to be predictable, inevitable, and welcome. Here’s why:
Let’s talk about inevitable. Since before 2007 Microsoft realized that it had numerous various products which would serve their customers better if they were horizontally integrated. Hotmail started working like Outlook, Outlook like Hotmail, then for a less specific master account they created Live. Now you can sync your Microsoft Live account between your Windows 8 log in, your browser, your Bing search, your e-mail, your cloud.
What you’re seeing with Google now is simply the same. They have all these disconnected services: Gmail, Maps, Youtube, Search, Drive, Chrome, Chrome OS, and Android. It makes perfect sense to do what Microsoft did and unify these under one master-type account. Enter Google+.
But *how* Google+ entered the market is not one of Google’s bright spots. The original social media offering was limited, buggy, and awkward. I think this may have been the result of Google’s development model, which is to shape their services based on intense user feedback, versus Microsoft which tends to stack it’s teams with mega-experts like the New York Yankees (with some of the resulting conflicts of the Yankees too).
Those models generally mean that Microsoft puts a strong product out front, but is limited in it’s response to customer input. Google on the other hand, tends to put a weak product out front then innovate aggressively based on feedback. The Google method can lead to a great product, but with a tarnished reputation.
And in my opinion that is what we have with Google+. After a few years of aggressive improvements, it’s now a stellar social platform. I prefer it over Facebook hands-down, and I was not an early adopter.
I prefer it over Facebook hands-down, and I was not an early adopter.
Now that they are connecting their services, I’m afraid Google is again taking a PR hit. I don’t feel like they’re really selling it to the public like Microsoft did.
But people need to realize, it is unreasonable for a company to keep it’s services disconnected from each other. And it’s especially ironic that some of the people complaining about Google’s moves are the same people taking advantage of Microsoft Live. And don’t even get me started on Apple ID.
I think Google is currently in an awkward pinfeathers stage as it gradually molts into a unified product. While that happens, people will continue to react.