THERE ARE TWO technology companies in the world that can whip up mass-hysteria really well. One is a fruit-themed vendor, and the other is Google. This week it's the latter company's turn to lure people into a hype bubble with Google+, Google's latest crack at a social network.
With every fresh product the internet search giant announces, there's a wave of hysteria that surrounds it. Take a look at the Google+ blog posts online and you'll see hundreds of people begging for invites, whilst ignoring the idiocy of posting your email address on the internet.
With Google Plus, or Google+, Google has used the old model of telling people about something amazing, but then not actually allowing anyone to access this new and remarkable service. This creates desire in people that tugs at their very souls and gets them all out posting on Twitter, moaning about how they've been excluded.
What Google seems to be doing with Google+ is attacking Facebook's present dominant position. Its previous services like Google Wave and Google Buzz failed spectacularly, so Google needs to generate another Gmail-style success story. But from first glances, Google+ is a service that will appeal to anyone who has used Facebook.
The Facebook comparison is natural with a service like this, because it's trying to achieve the same thing, to connect people, and it does so with a user interface that is essentially a refreshed version of Zuckerberg's project.
The biggest initial problem with Google+ is getting an invite. Some people have discovered what they call a workaround. But we don't believe it's an accidental feature, as it clearly has been designed to work this way.
And that's obvious, because a social network is nothing if you don't have friends available to connect with. So what we suspect Google has done is to open up invites to a reasonably small number of people, but is then allowing each of those people to invite a large chunk of their friends. By so doing, the company creates a situation where people are using the network as it was designed, rather than sitting looking at a wall with nothing written on it. It's not called a wall by the way, but that's the bit of Facebook it's most like.
Once someone has shared some content with you at Google+ and you've signed up for a Google+ account, you're good to go. You can post comments and thoughts, and people can like them and add comments of their own. It's not called "liking", of course, but is called "+1", in line with the Google service that launched recently.
Posting is customisable. So you can either send updates to a "circle" of close friends, or a specific friend, or make them public. This is good, because it means you can keep your, ahem, more casual language out of view by your boss and your mum, while still impressing your friends.