"Google took its biggest leap yet onto Facebook’s turf on Tuesday, introducing a social networking service called the Google+ project — which happens to look very much like Facebook," reports The New York Times.
The article continues, "But the Google+ project will be different from Facebook in one significant way, which Google hopes will be enough to convince people to use yet another social networking service. It is designed for sharing with small groups — like colleagues, college roommates or hiking friends — instead of with all of a user’s friends or the entire Web. It also offers group text messaging and video chat. ‘In real life, we have walls and windows and I can speak to you knowing who’s in the room, but in the online world, you get to a ‘Share’ box and you share with the whole world,’ said Bradley Horowitz, a vice president of product management at Google who is leading the company’s social efforts with Vic Gundotra, a senior vice president of engineering."
The story notes, "The service, which will initially be available only to a select group of Google users who will soon be able to invite others, will let people share and discuss status updates, photos and links."
From a business point of view the article explains, "At stake is Google’s status as the most popular entry point to the Web. When people post on Facebook, which is mostly off-limits to search engines, Google loses valuable information that could benefit its Web search, advertising and other products. Google+ may already be too late. In May, 180 million people visited Google sites, including YouTube, versus 157.2 million on Facebook, according to comScore. But Facebook users looked at 103 billion pages and spent an average of 375 minutes on the site, while Google users viewed 46.3 billion pages and spent 231 minutes."
The article also notes, "Unlike on Facebook, people do not have to agree to be friends with one another. They can receive someone’s updates without sharing their own. Users can also view their Google+ page the way their friends see it, to ensure their bosses do not see pictures from Saturday night, for instance."