Google+ and Social Search: 10 Things the Company Has Done Right

NEWS ANALYSIS: Google is being criticized for its focus on social networking, but the fact is, the company has done a lot right with its social push.

Google has been hit extremely hard in an article written by former employee James Whittaker. He argues that Google, which he left recently to join Microsoft, has lost its core vision and has become a company that focuses solely on advertising and forces itself into "a single corporate-mandated focus" that he didn't want to be a part of any longer. It was a shocking criticism of the search giant, and it indicated that things might not be so great in Mountain View, Calif.

One of Whittaker's chief complaints was Google's new social network, Google+. He argues that it was the breaking point that pulled Google in a new direction toward the aforementioned "mandate" and blamed CEO Larry Page for focusing Google's efforts on social networking and advertising and not the entrepreneurial spirit that made the search giant so special.

Although it's difficult to say if Google's corporate culture has changed as dramatically as Whittaker says, it's important to note that despite his issues with the company, Google has done a lot of good for the social-networking world.

1. Admit its mistakes

Remember Google Buzz? It was Google's first major foray into the social-networking market, and failed miserably. It was hit with privacy issues, poor integration and a host of other flaws that set it back. Soon after, Google realized that it was making a mistake with Buzz and all but killed it before officially announcing so. However, the best part is, Google didn't commit the same mistakes with Google+.

2. Who needs a Facebook clone?

Google could have very easily walked into the social-networking space with a Facebook clone and attracted at least some users. However, with Google+, the company decided to break out of the box, calling it first a social "project" and delivering really neat ideas, like Circles. Google+ is not a Facebook clone, and Google should be commended for that.

3. Video, video, video

Google+ was arguably the first social network to truly understand the value of video chatting with friends from a social site. The move was such a smart one, in fact, that Facebook was forced to partner with Skype and bring video calling to its service to catch up. Kudos to Google for realizing the value of video in social networks.

4. Integration: Controversial, but smart

Privacy advocates can say what they want about integration, and Google putting its many services into the same pane to enhance the chances of users accessing them, but it went a long way in improving its social network's adoption. Like it or not, Google is running a business. And integrating Google+ into search and Gmail was a smart business decision.

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger

Don Reisinger is a longtime freelance contributor to several technology and business publications. Over his career, Don has written about everything from geek-friendly gadgetry to issues of privacy...