Invites are sometimes easy to come by and often impossible, as Google keeps opening and closing its membership fire hose depending on system capacity. Yes, you wouldn't think the company with the most servers in the world would have to stagger even a social network launch, but there it is. eWEEK received 15 invites in the early going, promptly handing those out to colleagues. As of July 10, users are now being permitted to invite other folks... but that could change like the direction of the wind.
Celebrities such as Mark Cuban, Soulja Boy, Michael Dell, Ashton Kutcher, are already crowding Google+, but it's not a sure bet on who is real and who isn't, as actress Alyssa Milano, noted.
The celebrity verification issue brings up another point. Google+ launched with a reshare capability that lets users reshare posts of those in their Circles. Users can disable resharing, but only after they have posted. This security flaw irked some users.
How do we know Google+ is getting bigger? Google ran out of disk space, according to Google Vice President and Google+ Overlord Vic Gundotra: "Please accept our apologies for the spam we caused this afternoon. For about 80 minutes, we ran out of disk space on the service that keeps track of notifications. Hence our system continued to try sending notifications. Over and over again. Yikes. We didn't expect to hit these high thresholds so quickly, but we should have."
What Does It Mean for Facebook?
Now for the elephant in the room. One theory espoused by Search Engine Land's Greg Sterling holds that Google+ is rocketing to fame based on the pent-up demand for a clear alternative to Facebook. The meme, supported by at least one Facebook Platform developer, is that users are sick of Facebook. We at eWEEK agree. Do you?
Google+ vs. Facebook Art
A new collection of creative cartoons and multimedia send-ups pitting Google+ vs. Facebook has emerged, courtesy of Sean Percival.
+Circle vs. Groups
As we mentioned, + lets users put people in buckets from the outset. Facebook, which was originally conceived and is still primarily used to allow one-to-many info blasts, added Groups last October. So it's not without the capability to do so. But Google+ may have scored a coup by doing this from the ground up.
How We Got Here
The backstory of how Google+ launched with the Circles construct is rich, as retold by former Googler Dhanji R. Prasanna, who worked on + and Google Wave among other Google projects. Paul Adams devised what would evolve as the Circles construct with this The Real Life Social Network opus. Then he left for Facebook, though after Groups was already in the market. There is talk Adams is helping to re-architect Facebook's infrastructure to be more like Circles, but Prasanna said this would be tough. "Like Microsoft and online Office, it is incredibly difficult for Facebook to make fundamental changes to their product suite to answer competitive threats," Prasanna wrote. "It is for this reason I feel that Google+ has a genuine shot at dethroning Facebook."
Google+ for Businesses
Another concept ensconced in the potential for greater user penetration is the idea that Google+ will be open for businesses soon. Google asked businesses to refrain from creating Google+ profiles because it is still working on creating a unique experience for businesses that it will integrate with other advertising products such as AdWords. "We have a great team of engineers actively building an amazing Google+ experience for businesses, and we will have something to show the world later this year," Christian Oestlien, a group product manager at Google, wrote in a July 6 post on Google+ and discussed on YouTube here. If Google+ for businesses does for + what Facebook Pages did for business, the user base and engagement could skyrocket.
First Google+, Then the World?
Google+ is now in limited beta field testing. But let's say it goes hyper-viral as Gross assumes it will and Google successfully imbues every Web service with +. Google Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt intimated he envisioned Google rewriting its entire Web service infrastructure to support Google+. "As we move our stuff onto what you think of as Google+, there's a nice set of product improvements in core search, YouTube, Maps and so forth, which should drive adoption. We're trying to use the identity infrastructure to make Google products really interesting. Imagine all of those properties adopting the circles metaphor—Buzz adopting it, Gmail adopting it. The assumption is that as it grows and ramps up, everything will move over to using the + infrastructure." Considering that Google has more than 1 billion searchers and hundreds of millions on Gmail, Blogger and other services combined,...