Google+ (or is it “Google Plus”?), the search giant’s big social initiative, has arrived and there’s a lot to learn. Google’s answer to Facebook has been in the works for a year and has been delayed several times due to disagreements about its design, purpose, and execution. Facebook’s threat to Google’s domination of the Web was a wake-up call that ignited the development of the new social platform. Even though Facebook’s traffic seems to be slowing in the U.S. and Canada, the network’s exponential growth frightened Google’s leadership into taking action. When Facebook discovered the company’s plans, it went into “lockdown” for 60 days and focused on completing new features like Facebook Groups, Facebook Messages, and Facebook Places.
Google refers to Google+ as a “project” rather than a product, stressing that its goal is to make Google itself more social rather than being a standalone social network that competes directly with Facebook. “It’s ‘Plus’ because it takes products from Google and makes them better and ‘project’ because it’s an ongoing set of products,” said Vic Gundotra, Google’s senior vice president of Social. If it looks like a duck and quacks like a duck, it’s probably, well, a duck. And Google+ looks like and quacks like Facebook in many ways.