A little over a week ago news emerged from the Googleplex that they would be rolling out ‘the most significant social feature to its search service yet‘ in the form of a clickable Plus 1 button alongside the search results, search ads and eventually on other sites on the Web.
According to reports the service has only rolled out to 2% of Google’s U.S. userbase so far and I haven’t been able to check it out myself yet, but you’d be forgiven for noticing the similarities between the new button and the almost insidious spread of Facebook Like buttons across the Web.
My first reaction when I heard about Google jumping on this particular bandwagon was, what happened to Google as an innovator – the inventor of truly groundbreaking services like Gmail and Google Autocomplete? Another thought that occurred to me is I don’t use Google as a social tool at all, in fact I don’t even know how to add friends or contacts to my Google account apart from with my Gmail friends list. Another thought was, when I use Google, my aim is to get off the search engine as soon as possible and to my destination – I’m not interested in staying on the Google pages longer than finding the page I need and clicking out.
Maybe I’m wrong but it seems to me Google is heading towards another social media catastrophe like Google Wave, which was no good to neither man nor beast, or one that was largely ignored like Google Buzz. Like I said, I haven’t tried Plus 1 yet so I can’t really give a proper assessment but from an outside point of view it seems like just a defensive move against Facebook, overlooking Google’s own strengths (ie they aren’t social media).
Some reaction to Google Plus 1 from around the Web:
With +1, Google Search Goes Truly Social — As Do Google Ads
Google +1: Not Really Social, All About Business
Can Google’s Plus One Take On The Facebook Like?
+1′s: About the +1 button – Official Google Help page