This is a tough week for me as a techie. Colleagues around the tech world -- people whose stuff I read all the time -- are already playing with Google's (Nasdaq: GOOG ) latest try at developing a meaningful social-media service: Google+. Me? Not so much.
Color me green with envy, like a not-terribly-fearsome Hulk frustrated at being surrounded by gleeful reviewers lording their access to the Next Big Social Thing over me with every article I read, like this one at TechCrunch.
To be fair, I'm hardly the only one getting stiffed. The guys over at ZDNet also got snubbed, prompting blogger Ken Hess to write a sporting post about it. Several other outlets covered the "insane demand" for Google+ invites, while TechCrunch posted a primer on hacking your way to an invite.
Crazy, you say? Go visit eBay. There, $10 will buy you your very own Google+ invite. "Capitalism at its finest," my Foolish colleague and Motley Fool Inside Value advisor Joe Magyer tweeted earlier today. I couldn't agree more.
For its part, Google is responding to the hoopla with notable grace. "We need to do this carefully, and in a controlled way. Thank you all for your interest!" wrote Vic Gundotra, Google's senior vice president of engineering in a Google + post.
Notice the tone Gundotra uses. He's contrite while at the same time stoking the buzz that comes from launching a must-have service that, like a Saturday night table at a five-star restaurant, is nearly impossible to get. This is smart PR at its finest.
But for all for the good publicity Google's getting, it's way too soon to call this a Facebook killer. The principle benefit of Google+ is that it allows users to organize relationships in a manner that most reflects the way we socialize when not staring at a screen. Facebook offers a similar system with lists and privacy controls. Twitter, on the other hand, still suffers from the shotgun approach and as a result could find Google+ to be disruptive.
Longer term, I see Google+ allowing simple social commerce through a combination of Circles for sharing purchases with certain Google+ friends. Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) and Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) might love this idea as much as Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL ) would loathe it. (The Mac maker wants iTunes to become an e-commerce platform.)
I'll reserve judgment on Google+ until I get a chance to use it. But if the early reviews aren't far off, the Big G may have finally fumbled through enough failed social strategies -- from Buzz to the +1 button -- to arrive at something that has users excited. It's about time.
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