Posts Tagged ‘facebook’

Google Plus

Saturday, July 9th, 2011

The idea of Google releasing a social network to compete with Facebook has been floating around for a while, but they hit us by surprise with the soft launch of Google Plus. This was also used to facilitate a redesign of other Google products – namely Gmail, Google Search, and the service-wide top bar.

Let’s circle back around later

When first setting up your account, you’re encouraged to set up “circles”: groups of people that you can use to control who sees what. A really cool UI powers the dragging and dropping of people into different circles…it feels familiar, but I can’t quite place it. You can add people to your circles and they can add you to their circles, but the person on the receiving end can’t see which circle they’ve been added to. It took me a while to fully grasp the level of mutualism; in this sense, it’s a lot more like Twitter than Facebook. It’s not zero sum – adding someone to a circle doesn’t require them to do the same with you.

Once circles are set up, entering profile information is pretty straightforward. Integration with your existing Google Profile is nice, and from here on out it’s essentially what would be expected of a standard social network.

Similarity to Facebook

It’s tough to describe functionality without using the word “Facebook”. The core of the app, especially the news feed, is very reminiscent of Facebook, but there are a few differences. With Facebook, segmentation of your friends is a hard-to-find afterthought, but in Plus, it’s one of the first things you do. Collaborative video chats (“Hangouts”) are something that Zuckerberg has yet to fully implement, but that’ll be changing soon, likely as a response to Plus. The user interface, although a little cleaned up, mimics Facebook in many ways, from the layout of a sidebar on the left to the indented format of comments. It almost reminds me of the Microsoft Store to Apple Store comparison.

A lot of things are awesome

Based on search queries and the potential for data collection with +1′ing, Google can have a much better idea of who someone is than Facebook does, and it’d be really cool to see some integration of that into how you’re connected to people. The fact that the Google header follows you around in Gmail, search, maps, etc. is also helpful.

But why could this be better?

Google does have a few advantages in terms of a userbase and ties with existing products, and is definitely better positioned to have a social network. But the timing’s way off. They’re putting up a brand-new silo right next to Facebook, and I’m not sure the segmentation will be a good thing. Photos are especially an issue – the inconvenience could be huge to have some photos on Facebook, some photos on Flickr, and now some photos on Plus.

And although it’s a small problem that’ll likely be taken care of in the future, there’s a significant delay between when you get a notification in Plus and when the email is sent. Not a huge deal, but it does throw you off when getting an email that’s notifying you of something that happened a few hours ago.

The bottom line

It’s a cool webapp. But when it comes down to the sandpaper, they’re not solving a real problem or filling a real need – they’re just trying to keep up with everyone else.

Bridging the Gap Between Marketing and Market Research

Thursday, April 14th, 2011

The marketing industry has done a pretty good job at adopting the power of the Internet to better reach their audience. Social media’s become a huge buzzword in the space, and these first two sentences could probably pass as a rearranged garbling of some Mashable or TechCrunch post.

But market research is an entirely different story. Everyone’s pretty set in their ways when it comes to traditional surveys and focus groups. Brands are leveraging their fans online to figure out how to sell better, but not to figure out how to develop better products. Why conduct surveys from a totally random group of people when you could be doing it from the people that are actually going to convert to customers?

The Layer team and myself already have built a forced ranking app off of Rank ‘em to handle the actual surveys, but the next step is automating targeting on Facebook and beyond. I pitched Layer as decision-support software at Startup Riot, but after a good bit of feedback, we think market research is a vertical with a lot more potential.

So that’s what I’ve been working on. And things are just getting good.

Tech Trends: Week of 1/25/11

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

Thought I forgot? Joke’s on you! Because of some traveling, this is coming a little late, but last week was a pretty big one in terms of technology happenings. So here goes.


Sony’s really been at it recently – they’ve announced the next generation PSP, codenamed NGP. It’s running an impressive quad-core A9 processor, and is focusing on a new UI, location, and augmented reality. Their Xperia Play (aka “PlayStation Phone”)  has also found its way into the hands of Engadget’s team; I got a chance to play around with the device at their show and was pleased with where it’s headed. The UI was ambitious but rough, and on the hardware side, it’s a little less phenom than the NGP, with only a single core processor.

NFC and iPhone 5 rumors grow

Even though the Verizon iPhone’s been at the front of most iOS-related news, June isn’t that far away, and with it will likely be coming an iPhone 5. Commercial Times reported that production should start around May, and will turn the most shipments ever. Big surprise. There’s also been a decent amount of buzz surrounding Near Field Communications (NFC) and its eventual migration to the device - being able to tap your phone on a card reader to pay would be nothing short of awesome.

Verizon iPhone plan details surface

Might want to enlarge this.

Looks like $30 per month will get you an unlimited data plan for the iPhone on Verizon, although the newly-announced “mobile hotspot” feature will run an extra $20. I’m curious as to how strict Verizon will be about enforcing the use of jailbroken apps such as MyWi or PdaNet – possibly detect insane amounts of data and bill appropriately?

Oh, Zuck

In a debacle I find somewhat amusing, some sly fellow on the interwebz managed to gain control of Mark Zuckerberg’s Facebook fan page, and posted the following message:

Let the hacking begin: If facebook needs money, instead of going to the banks, why doesn’t Facebook let its users invest in Facebook in a social way? Why not transform Facebook into a ‘social business’ the way Nobel Price winner Muhammad Yunus described it? What do you think? #hackercup2011

The page was shut down.

LinkedIn’s IPO

We’ve been waiting for this one a long time: LinkedIn has finally filed their IPO. They haven’t announced the actual date of the offering yet, and have been pretty tight-lipped about the price, though most of the details should be readily available by 2011. I’m particularly interested as to how this will influence the IPO roadmaps of other prominent web companies (I’m looking at you, Facebook).

Thoughts? Itching to get ahold of the next PSP? Going to wait in line for the iPhone 5? Comment away!