Google VP: Google+ is 'more than a social network'

Google+ is rolling out to business customers, which might make it a much more useful product overall.
Written by Rachel King, Contributor

MOUNTAIN VIEW, CALIF. -- An overwhelming force changing the world is that the role of consumer technology has eclipsed the enterprise in important ways, according to Google vice president and CIO Ben Fried.

This topic particularly touches on the bring-your-own-device-to-work trend, which is troublesome -- at least security-wise -- for many IT departments. Nevertheless, even if employees don't bring their own computers or mobile devices, that doesn't mean they don't have an interest in what they're using for work.

"You can't ignore the fact that people already know how to use computers," said Fried, while speaking during a fireside chat at Google Atmosphere 2011 on Monday.

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Fried offered the example that everyone that comes to Google already knows how to use some computer software -- meaning they can be productive from the get-go. However, he added that they're not going to be too thrilled when offered a 4-year-old desktop to work on and told to have fun with it.

"One of the things we've discovered is that people are more productive and happier because they're using the technology of their choice," Fried continued.

One such way that Google is advertising to enable employees to be productive without little to no training would be Google Apps and, even more so going forward, Google Plus.

Recalling when CEO Larry Page mentioned during the quarterly investors conference call that the "Plus" has shipped," and now we have to ship the "Google," Google's vice president of product management Bradley Horowitz explained that this speaks to a much longer-term strategy.

When Google+ first launched in private invite mode over the summer, Horowitz acknowledged that a lot of people saw it as yet another social networking platform with a profile and a social graph. But, within a couple days, he posited, people had understood that Google built something very different.

"It's more than just simple coherent gestures and interface mechanisms. it's something deeper," said Horowitz.

Citing that Google has already done the basic social thing in the past with products like Orkut and Buzz, Horowitz continued to argue that Google+ is "more than a social network" because Google+ was designed to create a different nature of relationship with users.

Before Google+, Horowitz lamented that there wasn't a way to understand users in a durable fashion -- meaning that there wasn't really a way to identify users by long-term interests or personal concerns.

But now, Google+ is evolving. While there have been qualms with users and critics about privacy concerns surrounding Google+ (although, to be fair, this really happens to every social platform online), Horowitz asserted that the idea is to know users better to expand the value of other Google products, such as Gmail and Maps.

Furthermore, there's huge potential for Google+ in the business world now that the social platform is rolling out for enterprise customers, whether it be Circles for grouping team members or using Hangouts for video conferencing.

Although this feature isn't supported yet, Horowitz offered the example that if one were to share a Google document, wouldn't it be great to do that simply with Circles?

Answer: Yes, yes it would.


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