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  1. The Google+ project, what you need to know

    The Google+ project, what you need to know

    June 2011 has seen the arrival of Google+, and this time it’s different. Google has actually delivered a new social network model that could be a viable solution to rival Facebook. The Google+ project has grown quickly at the time of writing to over 5m users, and could realistically achieve 20m by the weekend.

    Google+ enables users to have all of the great functionality of Facebook, but with much more control.

    Furthermore, the search engine giant owns the majority of global online search business, an estimated user base of 170m Gmail accounts and millions of users accessing its Google services that can all be plugged straight in to a Google+ account such as Blogger, YouTube (490m users), Google Docs and Google Music.

    This integration of services certainly opens the way to take on Facebook, and only Google have the reach to do it.

    The new ‘Circles’ function provides users with a way to categorise users from each other and something Google say is poles apart from Facebook, enabling you to group friends, family, colleagues and control what you share with them.

    Many of us will have faced that awkward moment when a family member or a boss has sent a Facebook invite, now you can accept but control what is shared with them and when. When you place people into circles, or when you share with your circles, Google+ doesn’t disclose the titles of the circles you are in.

    Users can select real time data feeds that are provided to their network while intuitively the service looks for videos and articles that it thinks you’ll appreciate, so that when you’re free there’s always something to watch, read and share.

    The Google+ feature that could drive a new audience in to the site is ‘Hangouts’, this enables users to chat with up to a group of 10 people, and leave a video message for them compatible with Windows, Mac and Linux.

    Privacy of users
    Google+ users have been receptive to the way privacy is being dealt with by Google+ and much easier to leave the service than its rival. Facebook’s privacy settings have always been under scrutiny, many users leaving the site due to security risks, bugs and because it’s very hard to leave once you’re in the Facebook network with a deactivation period of two weeks.

    The rise of Google Android will see Google+ bring much more interest in its handsets, providing Apple with a tough challenge, which have in recent times had to innovate quicker and allow devices to be sold by multiple service operators. Apples previous market position enabled them to charge high for handsets such as the iPhone 3 and dictate to its users which provider they were to use.

    It’s highly likely that Google+ will be developed in a way that’s easier, quicker and smarter on an Android device compared to an Apple one, meaning that consumers will adopt Android if Google+ enjoys the success it’s being tipped for.

    Written by Ian Hughes, Managing Director of LHM Media

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