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Google have been playing with social networking for a while now. Wave, buzz and now Google+. Up until now they have failed to make any kind of impact, proving each time they just don’t understand what people want from social networking.
However, with the launch of Google+ it seems that they have gotten a bit more serious about the whole thing. You can’t move within google applications without some kind of new Google+ integration being announce. Up until now this has always been an extra feature, one that added value to any Google+ user.
Sadly, today I discovered just how desperate Google really are to have you use their new Social Network, by sacrificing their only successful social network to date – Google Reader.
Google Reader is their RSS aggregation service. It is one of the best news readers available. But on top of that, it had a fantastic set of social features that allowed you to share stories you have read with others, publish your read articles to an RSS feed, follow like minded users and more. All of this functionality turned a simple News reader into a thriving and loved social network of its own.
Now Google has crippled all of these great features and replaced them with the now well known +1 button. Rather than sharing your read items with anyone you want, you can only share with people who use Google+.
To me this stinks of desperation. You can only use the features you love, if you use it with our floundering social network!
Personally I have used the share feature to push things I am reading into my twitter stream, so people who are interested that already follow me can read stuff as well. Now, am I supposed to just hope that 400 or so people who follow me on twitter will suddenly jump to Google+ just to read what I have shared? Of course not! Why would they? They already use Twitter as their social platform.
Unlike Twitter, Google+ doesn’t integrate with anything, so I can’t even share things from Google+ back out into the real Social World of Twitter or Facebook. Whilst I can see this makes sense to them “If we give them no other option, then maybe they will use our service”, but for me it just shows they are missing the point.
Part of Twitter’s success is that people see it as a platform, a hub for their social activity. Many use it to feed into their other social lives like Facebook or LinkedIn. Google are actually trying to to the reverse. They want to shut out every external influence possible. Even Facebook is not that shut off from the rest of the social world and even if it was, we have a Facebook – we don’t need a new one! Live in Google+ world exclusively or go away entirely.
Not very social of you Google. Maybe we should rename Google+ the anti-social network?
Now, let’s see if I can find a nice Google Reader alternative shall we, one with a good iPhone app.