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Can Google+ knock Facebook off perch!

03 Jul 2011 at 05:45hrs | Views
Facebook is the king of social networks and has eclip-sed its predecessors, rising to the peak and since its ascent, all the other social networks like My Space, LinkedIn and other platforms have watched as Mark Zuckerberg's "baby" continues to grow.

The Social Network, the movie, gave people an insight into the genius and calculating mind of one of the youngest billionaires. It is rare to walk into any office or home with Internet connection and not find someone on Facebook, it's almost taboo and some say it is backward not to have an account with Facebook.

However, recent months have seen Facebook usage dropping. According to a June 12 report by Inside Facebook, the social network is continuing to grow, reaching around 687 million monthly active users by the start of June. The majority of new users are late adopters and come from countries such as India, the Philippines and Indonesia, for example.

However, in terms of users, the site has experienced lower than normal monthly growth over April and May.

Whereas over the past 12 months Facebook grew at a rate of around 20 million new active users per month, in April that number was reduced to 13,9 million, and in May it fell to 11,8 million.

The reasons for this decline in growth can be, at least in part, attributed to a decline in actual user numbers throughout North America and parts of Europe.

The most significant decrease in users occurred in the United States, where numbers fell from 155,2 million to 149,4 million, and in Canada, where users fell by 1,52 million to 16,6 million. Losses of monthly active users of over 100 000 also occurred in the UK, Norway and Russia, according to Inside Facebook.

Users have recently criticised Facebook for the introduction of several features that some users feel infringe on their privacy. The latest of these features was the introduction of facial recognition software, which the company claimed was designed to make "tagging" people in a photo easier.

Despite concerns over privacy and the growing presence of other social networking services such as Twitter, Inside Facebook notes that the decline in user numbers could be attributed to seasonal anomalies such as college graduations, bugs in the Facebook system or simply market saturation.

Inside Facebook also state that these figures do not yet reflect a trend in users moving away from Facebook, but rather that Facebook's growth could slow should it fail to break into countries such as China.

Google seems to have been watching events from a distance have since made their intention clear that they aim knock Facebook off its perch by developing the newest social network called Google+. How they are going to achieve that really depends on the social networkers themselves.

In a Press release by Google, the technology giant said among the most basic of human needs is the need to connect with others. With a smile, a laugh, a whisper or a cheer, we connect with others every single day. Today, the connections between people increasingly happen online.

Yet the subtlety and substance of real-world interactions are lost in the rigidness of our online tools."In this basic, human way, online sharing is awkward. Even broken. And we aim to fix it. We'd like to bring the nuance and richness of real-life sharing to software. We want to make Google better by including you, your relationships, and your interests. And so begins the Google+ project," read the statement.

Google+ is currently built around Circles, Sparks, Hangouts and mobile.

+Circles: Share what matters, with the people who matter most. According to the developers of the new project, not all relationships are created equal. So in life we share one thing with college buddies, another with parents, and almost nothing with our boss.

"The problem is that today's online services turn friendship into fast food - wrapping everyone in "friend" paper - and sharing really suffers. It's sloppy. We only want to connect with certain people at certain times, but online we hear from everyone all the time. It's scary. Every online conversation (with over 100 "friends") is a public performance, so we often share less because of stage fright. It's insensitive. We all define "friend" and "family" differently - in our own way, on our own terms - but we lose this nuance online," read the statement.

From close family to foodies, the statement noted, they found that people already use real-life circles to express themselves, and to share with precisely the right folks. So, as they put it, they did the only thing that made sense: they brought Circles to software. Just make a circle, add your people, and share what's new - just like any other day.

+Sparks: Strike up a conversation, about pretty much anything"Healthy obsessions inspire sharing, and we've all got one (or two or three. . .). Maybe it's muscle cars, or comic books, or fashion, but the attraction is always the same: it comes up in conversation, we immediately jump in, and we share back and forth with other fans. Often for hours.

The trick is getting things started, and getting over that initial hump.

Fortunately, the web is the ultimate icebreaker," continues the developers of Google+.The web, of course, is filled with great content - from timely articles to vibrant photos to funny videos. And great content can lead to great conversations.

Sparks is the online search engine that delivers a feed of highly contagious content from across the Internet. On any topic you want, in over 40 languages. Simply add your interests, and you'll always have something to watch, read and share - with just the right circle of friends.

+Hangouts: Stop by and say hello, face-to-face-to-face "Whether it's inside a pub or on a front porch, human beings have always enjoyed hanging out. And why not? It's how we unwind, recharge, and spend unscheduled time with old and new friends alike. Hanging out is deceptively simple though, and the nuance gets lost online, "Just think: When you walk into the pub or step onto your front porch, you're in fact signaling to everyone around, "Hey, I've got some time, so feel free to stop by." Further, it's this unspoken understanding that puts people at ease, and encourages conversation.

But today's online communication tools (like instant messaging and video-calling) don't understand this subtlety.

They're annoying, for starters. You can ping everyone that's "available," but you're bound to interrupt someone's plans. They're also really awkward. When someone doesn't respond, you don't know if they're just not there, or just not interested," the statement reads.

The developers said with Google+ they wanted to make on-screen gatherings fun, fluid and serendipitous, so they created Hangouts. By combining the casual meet up with live multi-person video, Hangouts lets you stop by when you're free, and spend time with your Circles. Face-to-face-to-face.

+Mobile: share what's around, right now, without any hassleThese days a phone is the perfect sharing accessory: it's always with you, it's always online, and it's how you stay close with your closest friends. Google+ focused on things (like GPS, cameras, and messaging) to make your pocket computer even more personal.+Location, location, this functions allows you to add your location to every post. (Or not. It's always up to you.)+Instant UploadWhile you're snapping pictures, and with your permission, Google+ adds your photos to a private album in the cloud.

+Huddle Google+ includes Huddle, a group messaging experience that lets everyone inside the circle know what's going on, right this second.

Google+ is beginning in Field Trial, the statement said, so people may find some rough edges, and the project is currently by invitation only.

It seems Google has been collecting all the complaints about Facebook and profiling them to see how they can come up something that counters all these problems Facebook has had with privacy and other issues and their closing statements point towards that:

"You and over a billion others trust Google, and we don't take this lightly. In fact we've focused on the user for over a decade: liberating data, working for an open Internet, and respecting people's freedom to be who they want to be.

"We realise, however, that Google+ is a different kind of project, requiring a different kind of focus -on you. That's why we're giving you more ways to stay private or go public; more meaningful choices around your friends and your data; and more ways to let us know how we're doing."

Time will tell how Google+ will fare when it finally opens up to everyone but even they must admit they have a fight on their hands when it comes to doing battle with Facebook but as the saying goes, fortune favours the brave.

The author can be contacted on costa.mano@zimpapers.co.zw and he credits www.google.com

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Source - TH
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