Google isn't only competing with Facebook, but Tumblr, a fast-growing and popular social blogging platform. Tumblr makes it easy to find great sources of content based on specific interests -- say, cooking or baseball.
Google+ offers something called Sparks, which are streams of content based on interest areas. However, these don't connect you to personal blogs, but rather news and video content.
Sparks are "conversation starters," and represent some really cool search voodoo -- a kind of "Are you feeling lucky" writ large. What's great about this is that it cleverly solves a real demand. You know all those chain e-mails that your relatives forward around? Irritating, yes. But what's going on is that people want to share stuff, but (let's be brutally honest here) don't have anything to say.
Sparks give people high-quality content in their real interest areas, which they can forward, then start a real conversation about. At first I thought Sparks was idiotic and useless. But now I realize that it's brilliant.
Freedom of choice
One of the annoying things about Facebook is that you're constantly barraged with effluent from various "apps." Somebody gets suckered in by a viral Facebook add-on, and the next thing you know you're being spammed by some canned post. "Susie answered a question about Mike!" Ugh!
You can "Hide" the app, if you want. But you'll soon get another one from another app. If you're on Facebook, you have no choice. On Google+, there are no apps.
You also have control and choice over who you follow. On Facebook, you can "friend" someone unless they "friend you back." Google+ is more like Twitter. People can "follow" you, and see your posts, without you having to "follow" them back, and vice versa. Anyone can "block" anyone else. You have more choice.
Google+ also lets you choose which device to post pictures and videos from. A feature on the Google+ Android app lets you automatically upload pictures and videos instantly and privately to the cloud as you take them. These show up as thumbnails on Google+ on any device, enabling you to post them on Google+ with a single click.
Why Google+ will become the next social superpower
It's too late for any new entrant to come in and challenge Facebook, which now has three-quarters of a billion active users. Google+ will succeed in part because Google isn't starting from scratch. It leverages your history of using Gmail, Talk, Contacts, Profiles, Buzz, Places and News. So in a way, you're already on Google+ -- especially if you're a Buzz user (Google retains things like the list of people you've blocked, for example.)
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