Google, the worldâ€™s largest search company, is formally making its pitch to become a major force in social networking. The product it announced Tuesday is called Google+, and observers might wonder whether itâ€™s simply one more social effort by a company thatâ€™s had a lousy track record in that field to date.
Parts of it certainly seem to appear similar to what weâ€™ve seen before. One significant component is a continuous scroll called â€śthe streamâ€ť thatâ€™s an alternative to Facebookâ€™s news feed â€” a hub of personalized content. It has a companion called â€śSparks,â€ť related to oneâ€™s specified interests. Together they are designed to be a primary attention-suck of Google users. Google hopes that eventually people will gravitate to the stream in the same way that members of Facebook or Twitter constantly check those continuous scrolls of personalized information.
The second important app is Circles, an improved way to share information with oneâ€™s friends, family, contacts and the public at large. Itâ€™s an management tool thatâ€™s a necessary component of any social network â€” a way to organize (and recruit) fellow members of the service.
But as I learned in almost year of following the projectâ€™s development, with multiple interviews with the team and its executives, Google+ is not a typical release. Developed under the code name Emerald Sea, it is the result of a lengthy and urgent effort involving almost all of the companyâ€™s products. Hundreds of engineers were involved in the effort. It has been a key focus for new CEO Larry Page.