What is Google+ killer application?
Is it Circles, the friending mechanism that lets users bucket their contacts in gradual, careful curation rather than Facebook's firehose contact intake? Is it Sparks? My guess is not. I've been on + for a week and haven't had much reason to go back there.
What about Hangouts, the group video chat app? Jenna Wortham of The New York Times said this chatroom construct "changed my life." Lofty praise indeed. Most apps just aspire to perform a function.
Google+ killer app is neither Hangouts, nor Huddles, the mobile group messaging app. It's neither Circles, nor Sparks. Allow me to borrow from Google's "speed" is a feature or app assertion when I say that, as with Facebook, the best feature of Google+ is user engagement.
That's right. People are engaging with users in multiple ways. People are clamoring to bucket their friends, family, acquaintances, people they want to follow or creating their own Circles at a prodigious clip.
I've been on + since June 28 and I already follow more people on here than on Facebook. Most of the folks are complete strangers!
Why is this? Well, months before Google+ launched to limited testing, we saw the +1 button. People are plus-oneing like crazy and adding new people to Google+ like crazy, partly to connect with users and get a feel for the new network, but also to boost their Google ranks.
Search, with PageRank and all of the algorithms that dance around it, is a big part of Google+. The more people following you and the more people you follow boosts your rank. By default, it's also boosting casual introductions and interaction.
This morning, for example, Technologizer's Harry McCracken posed a couple simple questions, asking if users were on Facebook and whether or not they like + better. There were 28 comments as of this writing, including one by yours truly.
I don't know McCracken, though I know his work. On Facebook, such a connection likely wouldn't have happened because I'm not in McCracken's more private network of people. We began following each other from seeing other connections we had in common. See what I mean to the right.
That's the kind of sublime, serendipitous connection that Google envisioned happening on + via Circles.
Don't believe user engagement and traffic are growing? They are for heavy users like Robert Scoble and Louis Gray, and they're work is trickling down to us smaller fry. Just look at these stats by Danny Sullivan over at Search Engine Land.
Nothing makes the user engagement quest clearer for Google than the revelation that the company is terminating private Google Profiles July 31.
"We believe that using Google Profiles to help people find and connect with you online is how the product is best used. Private profiles don't allow this, so we have decided to require all profiles to be public."
Private profile are dead ends for Google. They certainly won't help people find each other via Circles, the way McCracken and I found each other and the way thousands of other people are meeting and hanging out online.
In limited field testing, Google+ isn't close to catching Facebook's 750 million users, but the early buzz is generating lots of demand for the network.
Can't wait to see what happens when Google launches + to everyone.