Google product VP, Bradley Horowitz, is defending the lack of people sharing via Google+, suggesting that “friction can be a very good thing”. In an interview with the Guardian, Horowitz explains that the opposite of such "friction", the frictionless sharing adopted by Facebook through its many third-party media apps, means that users could find updates spammy.
"We've introduced friction into the system as a design constraint that forces people to be thoughtful and considered. As a philosophy, it's unique," he says.
Third-party reports suggest that engagement on Google+ is somewhat up and down, though Google is keeping definitive stats under its hat. Horowitz simply claims that the social service is always "seeing record-setting days" and that its mobile apps are driving "huge amounts" of engagement. With the firm insisting that Google+ should not be regarded as a standalone service, describing it as a“connective tissue” across multiple products such as Gmail and YouTube, it is not even clear whether traffic is even the most effective measure of engagement for the service.
Although Horowitz does not comment directly on Facebook’s media sharing apps, Google’s assessment that constant updates could constitute over-sharing are well-reasoned, with Facebook criticised for overwhelming users with information on friends’ music taste and film or reading habits. Horowitz’s remarks and Google’s position, however, are being seen by commentators as a defensive attitude towards a general lack of take-up in Google+. For all that Horowitz claims that Google+ pushes thoughtful engagement, Google has still followed in Facebook’s footsteps when it comes to making the service a media hub by opening up its API to third-party developers for games, marketing and news consumption.
Its most recent partnership is with Flipboard, which will enable Google+ users to hook up their accounts with the social news reader. Presumably these are moves precisely to encourage engagement and sharing on Google+ and, although Google refuses to reveal any Google+ statistics, or even indicate what exactly it is measuring, some third-party partners have demonstrated their dissatisfaction by quitting the platform. Gaming firms Wooga and EA are pulling their titles from Google+, citing poor traffic and better uptake on other platforms such as Facebook. If Google does not boost engagement, its other developers could follow suit.
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