There’s no shortage of Google+ in the air these days.
Overeager pundits and soothsayers are hoping to be among the most visible voices on the net saying which service or company it’s going to topple, why it’s going to fail or succeed, and why it should or shouldn’t be more like this or that.
It all seems awfully premature, considering Google+ is just getting started, and I don’t mean in user numbers. We’re all familiar enough with Google products to know that practically everything they’ve ever done was launched early and incomplete, whether it went on to succeed (Gmail, Android) or not (Orkut, Wave). Most if not all of the big talk surrounding the network right now will have to be adjusted in a month, six months, and a year from now. It’s fun to speculate, but Google is always playing the long game. Google+ isn’t just half-baked; they haven’t even put it in the oven yet. Let’s not judge the cookie by the dough.
Is it an alternative to Facebook? Yes. To Twitter? Yes. To Yammer, to productivity suites, to Skype, to Office, to Microsoft, to Apple? If it isn’t now, you better believe it will be. Google is like a kind of Troll-Borg. You think they put out something that stands on its own, a “Facebook killer” or an “iPhone killer” — but it’s only later that you realize that the separation from the mothership was just an illusion, and the entire bulk of Google was right there the whole time. But it’s too late — you’ve been assimilated. Problem?
I wrote a long time ago about how all these little projects of theirs would be connected and unified, the way the Romans unified their empire by joining all the little roads to their big roads. I thought it was going to happen with Chrome OS, but a tumultuous mobile market meant a late start there; Google+ is more of a clear step in that direction now.