Google is an amazing company. Beyond all the obvious stuff (world’s best search engine, self-driving cars, crazy computer glasses), Android has been the thing that’s been capturing my mind the most lately. But the point of this post isn’t to talk about Android (I’ll save that for another, longer, post about the pros, cons, and comparisons to iOS), rather it’s to talk about Google+ generally, and specifically its marriage to the world’s biggest mobile platform.
As we all know, Google has very publicly announced its intention to build G+ into a massive social platform at any cost. For a while I think many simply nodded and metaphorically patted Google on the head, as if to say, “sure Google, whatever you say.” However, as Android has continued to grow, I’ve noticed something very interesting: It seems that Google’s plan to turn G+ into a platform is to hitch its wagon to Android. With over a billion users it’s hard to argue with that strategy.
Specifically, Google has put G+ all over Android: Photos automatically sync with a private G+ photo album, many apps offer to use G+ to sign in, and, in its newest phones, Hangouts take over the SMS responsibilities, creating a unified messaging app. What you get is a platform you can’t help but use. And, since it’s Google, what you start to realize is that it’s a great product.
Where things start to get interesting, though, is when you start to layer on the idea of identity. This, of course, is where Facebook shines. They have established themselves as your singular identity platform. Anywhere you can create an account these days, you’re offered to create it using your Facebook identity. It’s only a matter of time, I’d imagine, until we start signing in at the DMV and authenticating at our banks with our Facebook accounts.
Google, of course, isn’t happy about this. They’d argue, I’d imagine, that they own identity just as much as Facebook does. Their argument, of course, is that all the implicit data you load into Google by way of your searches, locations, emails, and phone calls, makes for a pretty compelling picture of who you are and what you’re interested in.
What they’re missing is the explicit stuff. That includes content you share, the friends you explicitly connect with, and generally, the identity you project publicly. That’s why Google+ is so important: The company has already proven it is better than most at using your data and turning it into something really amazing (try Google Now if you don’t believe it), but it hasn’t yet become a place you think of as representing your public identity. The more they can leverage Android to bring people into the G+ fold and show them the power of Google as an identity platform, the more they can catch up to Facebook in the fight for who represents you in the future.
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