Google+ challenges Facebook in social network battle

A screenshot of Google+ Google+ has been released for use by a small, selected number of users

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Online search giant Google has launched a new social networking website in its latest attempt to take on Facebook, which now claims more than 500m users.

Google+ allows individuals to share photos, messages and comments but also integrates the company's maps and images into the service.

It also aims to help users easily organise contacts within groups.

But some analysts say Google has simply reproduced features of Facebook while adding a video chat function.

Google, which handles roughly two out of every three internet searches in the US, has taken several stabs at Facebook in recent years.

But its previous efforts ended in failure, with both Google Wave and Google Buzz proving unpopular with users.

New functions

The company is now boasting that four features in Google+ could help make the company a permanent player in social networking:

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Google is playing it canny by only releasing the product via invite to a limited set of users before being gradually opened up to the general public”

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  • Circles - a functionality that allows individuals to place friends into groups, allowing users to share different forms of content with targeted clusters of friends
  • Hangouts - live multi-user video conferencing that permits friends to drop in and out of live group conversations
  • Huddle - group instant messaging
  • Sparks - a feature that connects individuals on the network to others with common interests.

The current version of Google+ has only been released to a small number of users, but the company has said it soon hopes to make the social network available to the millions of individuals that use its services each day.

"Online sharing needs a serious re-think, so it's time we got started," Vic Gundotra, senior vice president of engineering at Google, said in a press release.

"Other social networking tools make selective sharing within small groups difficult," she added, taking what appears to be a jab at Facebook's recent grouping function.

But some analysts have said Google could have a difficult time converting Facebook devotees to their new social network.

"People have their social circles on Facebook - asking them to create another social circle is challenging," Debra Aho Williamson, principal analyst with research firm eMarketer, told the Associated Press news agency.

"The whole idea of a Google social network... they've been throwing stuff against the wall for several years and so forth nothing has stuck," she added.

In April, Google reached an out-of-court settlement with a US policy group over its rollout of Google Buzz, a previous social effort.

The legal action claimed Google deceived users and violated its own privacy policy by automatically enrolling all Gmail users in its Buzz social network without seeking prior permission.


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  • Comment number 67.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

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    Comment number 57.

    Google need to integrate, so a user can read Facebook on G+ and visa versa.

    Facebook will make this as hard as possible - technically and legally. See address book sharing and OpenID for example.

    Summary? Another fail. But multi-way HQ video could be a nice competitor to Skype and therefore Microsoft.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    good luck to google but why would i bother switching over to using their program when I've got all my friends and contacts on facebook? It would just be a hassle

  • rate this

    Comment number 49.

    It will be interesting to see how this merges with the normal google accounts - especially in business Google Apps.

    I can see business uses for this very easily, though maybe some of my clients may be worried by the "huddle"

    Perhaps a slightly different interface for business users?

  • rate this

    Comment number 44.

    The trouble with all these sites is that they promote the idea of networking and making new friends whilst in fact trying to harvest your data for commercial gain. The reason most fail is lack of trust and invasion of privacy.


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