Google+ opens registration to the public as Facebook responds with innovations of its own

By Patrick Stafford
Thursday, 22 September 2011

Entrepreneurs are being urged to jump on Google+ after the internet giant finally allowed all members of the public to sign up this week, prompting immediate comparisons with market leader Facebook, which has responded to the new threat by introducing innovations of its own.


As the company prepares for its F8 conference this week, it has already launched an update to its news feed and introduced a real-time news ticker, while rumours suggest it will launch profile design updates and new "read", "listened", "watch" and "want" buttons.


This comes after the company last week launched a new list of systems that more accurately group friends together into categories, in a response to Google's much-touted "circles" system.


While Stewart Media chief Jim Stewart says Google+ does not yet allow businesses to create company-specific pages, he still says entrepreneurs should create a profile and register a Gmail account in their business name in preparation for that announcement.


"You should get a Google+ profile set up if for no other reason than the older your profile becomes on the web, the more opportunity it has to gain authority and stop someone else from taking it."


"At some point Google is going to open up profiles to businesses, but you're going to need a Gmail address to get that service. You may as well register for it now."


This week Google announced a number of features on Google+ including an upgrade to search, some enhancements for the Hangout chat features and the ability to video chat on your phone. The open sign-ups were the biggest announcement, with analysts suggesting now is the time to watch whether Google will have a chance at overtaking Facebook.


However, Facebook has been watching Google closely. Last week it introduced new list features that allow users to categorise their friends easier, based on Google's "circles" feature, while yesterday it also rolled out upgrades for news feeds and a real-time ticker that shows all of your friends' activity.


This ticker allows you to comment on status updates, photos and videos without leaving the home screen – part of an effort to make users stay on their profiles longer.


However, like many of its other updates, they haven't been well received.


As part of the F8 conference, Facebook is also expected to announce new upgrades to profile pages and features that will allow users to listen and share music.


While these features are no doubt part of Facebook's response to Google+, Stewart says it is unlikely Facebook will be toppled. Instead, he says Google+ will become something completely different.


"I think there will be people who use Facebook to keep in contact with family and friends and so on, but certainly Google+ has much less noise. I think what you'll see is that Facebook becomes the platform for the masses."


"I prefer using Google+ to connect with people. What you'll see is that while everyone has a Facebook profile, Google+ will be used for more personal connections."


This article first appeared on SmartCompany.

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