In no particular order, here are three terrific new things that are making, or are about to make, their presence felt on the Nets.
MySpace was eclipsed by Facebook, but can Google+ eclipse Facebook? Currently in test mode with limited invitations, which may explain why I haven’t tried it yet, Google+ is already getting some writeups all over the Web.
Google handled its late June 2011 launch of Google+ rather modestly, with just a blog and some video demos, but it does give some idea of what it will offer. Like “Circles” that could be a modern-day variation on those “Friends & Family” calling circles that the old long-distance company MCI had way back in the pre-Net 1990’s.
Google+ is also going to feature “Sparks” that enable content to be shared, because Google considers the Web to be “the ultimate icebreaker.”
Also, in a twist on the ideas of online chats and instant messaging, Google+ offers “Hangouts” that allow for multiple, in addition to one-on-one, communication. Oh, yes, and they’ll also extend the ideas to “Mobile,” thus furthering the experience.
Again, Google+ is just a test as I’m writing this, but when it becomes more widely available, at the same time that Justin Timberlake and company is making an effort to bring MySpace back, will just its name be enough to help it beat both of them out?
2. Skype Video Chats on Facebook
Facebook reportedly was going to make a big announcement on July 6, 2011, but while what it turned out to be wasn’t as big as many expected, it could be but an improvement in their product nonetheless.
Skype, now owned by Microsoft, has put its video chat capabilities in with Facebook. The video chatting is in the browser, so no separate player would be necessary. Despite Facebook’s claims about its ease of use, and despite their claims that no downloading was necessary, tests conducted by PC World showed that you did have to download the video chat software outside the browser, and that the video chats they tested, done as peer-to-peer connections, showed choppy picture quality and little to no sound.
As with anything of this magnitude, the kinks need to be worked out. And with some users telling Facebook how difficult the new video chat is to use, the jury might be out on this one. I’d give it time, and hopefully, Facebook and Skype will find a way to improve on it, else they might concede the video chatting to Google+.
3. Spotify About to Debut in the U.S.
Spotify, which has reportedly signed deals with three of the four major-label record groups, and is closing in on the fourth of them, is already taking invitations for its forthcoming, date-to-be-determined, launch in the United States.
Created in Sweden, Spotify claims 10 million registered users, particularly throughout Europe, including 1 million who pay for premium unlimited use while the remainder get up to 10 hours of free listening, complete with ads, per month.
But just because 10 hours of free Spotify per month is good idea in Europe might not mean it’ll work in the US, because reportedly, Spotify had to cut back on how “free” their service would be in order to get the major-label deals it needed.
Terrific, yes. New, yes. Will they work? From what I have noticed, I’d just think of them as works in progress for now. But do you think Google+, Facebook/Skype Video Chatting, or Spotify in the US—any or all of them—will succeed?