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Don't Call This a Facebook Killer

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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. (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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Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He owned shares of Apple and Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

The Motley Fool owns shares of Best Buy, Apple, and Google. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of Apple, Google, eBay, Best Buy, and and creating a bull call spread position in Apple. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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