Google Inc. launched its most ambitious social-networking effort yet, broadening a battle with Facebook Inc. to grab the attention of Web users and future advertising dollars.
The new service, a top priority for new Google Chief Executive Larry Page, is aimed at exploiting what has been considered a weakness of Facebook?that by default people using Facebook share all their information with a big group of friends.
The service, called Google+, looks similar to Facebook, with streaming updates of photos, messages, comments and other content from selected groups of friends, said Bradley Horowitz, vice president, product management. The service, which will integrate with Google?s maps and images, seeks to help people organize social contacts easily within groups of friends.
?Instead of coming directly at Facebook, which would be suicidal, I think they?ve recognized that they have to grow out from a niche — and the niche here is people who want to be connected with a specific circle or a specific group,? Josh Bernoff, an analyst with Cambridge, Massachusetts-based Forrester Research Inc. ?In that context this has a chance to be a small success.?
The effort to create what became Google+ started in earnest in February 2010 after the Google social-networking service Google Buzz flopped with users, largely due to a backlash after it inadvertently made the email address books of users visible to other people. Last summer The Wall Street Journal reported Google was developing a new Facebook rival.
Sources: Bloomberg; Businessweek; Financial Times