Google Plus (Google+)
Google has unveiled its new social networking site, Google Plus (or Google+), seemingly in an attempt to compete with social networking giant Facebook. One of the things it's done that'sn’t currently possible with Facebook, is have in-built VoIP, meaning users will be able to have voice conversations through Google Plus. It allows people to create groups of friends called Hangouts, who'll then be able to have one integrated voice conversation of up to ten people at a time. This isn’t currently even possible with Facebook’s instant text messaging service, which only allows for one-to-one conversations.
Facebook Voice Integration
Just after the unveiling of Google Plus, though, Facebook have made their own announcement concerning VoIP integration. They've done a deal with VoIP provider, Skype, which is in the process of being bought by another of Google’s biggest rivals, Microsoft. The Skype-Microsoft merger still needs to be cleared by regulators but is almost certain to happen. The Facebook-Skype deal will allow Facebook to offer their users video and voice calling by integrating a Skype VoIP service on the Chat section of their website, where instant messaging is possible. This means that in future voice and video conversations will be possible through the world’s most successful social networking site.
Is the Timing a Coincidence?
So, is it a coincidence that Facebook have announced this just as Google make their own announcement? Or are they only trying to follow suit and make sure Google don’t get one over them? Well no, Facebook have been working on this for some time, although the timing of their announcement may not be such a coincidence.
Are Facebook Users Likely to Switch to Google Plus
There will inevitably be differing opinions as to the individual merits of each social networking site. Google is attempting to market their alternative as a social networking site with more choice of who sees what content. Users will be able to choose which of their “circle”. Of friends can see certain content. This could be seen as an attempt to have better privacy settings. It'll be difficult for them to dislodge Facebook though. Facebook has become the default social networking site in much the same way as Google has become the default search engine. Even if Google Plus has certain advantages many are likely to stick with Facebook, partly because it's where many of their friends are. In terms of the voice option, Facebook announcing their agreement with Skype could limit the chances of users switching to Google Plus.
Is a Voice Option Something Users Want?
Are social networking sites something people will use to talk to family and friends. Do they just use the phone or regular VoIP for this? This is something we're at this stage unsure of. People often use text messaging instead of making a telephone call. Instant messaging could be the equivalent to text messaging with each platform’s VoIP system being the equivalent to a telephone call.
Exactly where the social networking battle will go from here is difficult to say. It'll likely take some time for Google Plus to really eat into the Facebook market. Only time will tell.