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Google Launches Google+ iPhone App, Expands Critical Mobile Presence

After weeks of speculation, Google has received approval from Apple to release the Google+ iPhone app. However, the highly anticipated launch did not go off without a hitch. The first release of the Google+ iPhone app was buggy and highly unstable, frequently crashing and logging out users at random. Google quickly identified and rectified the issue, releasing an updated version of the app an astonishing 1 hour and 40 minutes after the initial launch.

Lead Project Manager for Google+ Mobile, Punit Soni, revealed early this morning (on Google+, of course) that the App Store was serving early downloaders a test version of the Google+ iPhone app.

(Some users report the Google+ iPhone app is not showing up in searches within the App Store. Here is the download link for the app, accessible through your iOS device.)

The app allows users to access their Stream, comment on and +1 other user’s posts, but the current version of the app does not allow users to re-share posts in their Stream. Soni, in response to Robert Scoble’s post reviewing the app, announced an in-stream Share feature is in the works. The app provides access to Photos from your Circles, your personal albums and all photos stored on your iPhone, and allows you to upload and geotag photos to Google+. Check out the full Google+ for iPhone review from Mashable, which includes 20 in-app pictures.

Google+ iPhone App - Screenshot

One of the key features driving the Google+ iPhone app’s utility over the browser-based version is the mobile-optimized Huddle feature. The success of Google+ will be largely driven by its seamless integration between mobile and desktop, and the two-way or group chat Huddle feature enables Google+ to become a central hub of mobile activity, replacing text messaging and additional group chat applications if the app gains widespread traction.

The brief and uncharacteristic early hiccup was positively overshadowed by Google’s quick update, and the Google+ iPhone app paves the way for Google+ to further penetrate the mobile environment, a critical battleground in the heavyweight bout between Google+ and Facebook. If Google+ can continue the growth trajectory it has enjoyed during its invitation-only trial phase, and perhaps beat Facebook to the punch with a standout iPad app, the social networking landscape that seemed set in stone just months ago will be poised for significant transformation. This competition between two immeasurably smart and talent-rich companies will only lead to stronger products and a better user experience, and that is something we can all look forward to.

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Rise and Fall of MySpace is A Lesson for Facebook

MySpace was the king of the early social Web, with nearly 76 million monthly unique visitors at its peak in December 2008. It spawned the careers of several music mega-stars, and brought in as much as $470 million a year in advertising revenues. When News Corp. purchased the social network for $580 million from Intermix, MySpace was poised to become the transformative centerpiece of a new media empire. Shortly thereafter, a 21-year-old Mark Zuckerberg turned down a $1.6 billion offer from Yahoo!, and the world balked at his seemingly uncontrollable arrogance and idiocy. My, how time reveals all.

This week, with the backdrop of LinkedIn, Pandora, Groupon and Zynga enjoying multi-billion dollar valuations, MySpace was auctioned off to Specific Media (and Justin Timberlake) for a paltry $35 million, shrinking into the shadows of the new era of online and social media. Facebook, once dwarfed by the size and power of MySpace, is poised to go public in the next 9 months valued at over $100 billion. It seems Mark Zuckerberg, now personally worth over $18 billion thanks to Facebook, isn’t the arrogant fool many perceived him to be.

Instead, Zuckerberg is hailed as a genius, a visionary and has been crowned the King of the Web. His company is expected to pull in $2.19 billion in revenues in 2011 and double- and triple-digit growth in annual display ad revenue has vaulted Facebook past Yahoo! and Google to the forefront of display advertising. Today, Facebook enjoys the company of over 700 million users, while MySpace continues to shed millions of users and traffic has fallen off a cliff.

MySpace v Facebook BloombergBusinessWeek

Facebook is on a tear, and at times appears unstoppable. But if there is one thing Silicon Valley and the online world has learned, things can change in a heartbeat. As Google likes to say, the competitors are always just one click away, and in social networking, any exodus almost exclusively means a total exodus. When your friends flee, you flee. Facebook must learn from the mistakes MySpace made if it wants to avoid the same fate, especially considering how poorly regarded the company’s image is in spite of its massive size and success.

Mismanagement, a total disregard for the user, an onslaught of spam, fake profiles and spammy features and an ill-fated sale to a massive old media overlord are just a few of the missteps that took MySpace from a company that could have been worth billions to a nuisance happily discarded for pennies on the dollar.

Facebook’s first achievement on this path came years ago, when Mark Zuckerberg shocked the world and turned down a $1.6 billion offer for a company with little to no revenues. MySpace co-founder Chris DeWolfe noted to Bloomberg Businessweek that the News Corp. acquisition deprived his company of the start-up culture upon which the company was built and thrived. A relatively slow and simple introduction of advertising features on Facebook, partnered with a voracious focus on the user experience, has kept Facebook users from feeling exploited (at least not by ads, privacy concerns are another issue.) Partnerships with Zynga (which just filed to IPO valued at $20 billion and is hoping to raise up to $1B) and search giants Bing, Yahoo! and Google have made Facebook the core of the modern Web experience.

The potential for Facebook to succeed where MySpace failed is astounding, but rather than celebrating their victories over the fallen competitor, Facebook must treasure the opportunity to explore exactly how MySpace fell short, and how they can deliver mind-blowingly positive experiences to their users every step of the way.

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Img. Credit: Bloomberg Businessweek

AllThingsD Redesign Delivers Context, Cohesion for the Influential Brand

Led by the sharp, snarky commentary of Kara Swisher and the perennial influence of Walt Mossberg, AllThingsD has risen to the forefront of Silicon Valley technology, Internet and media journalism. With decades of collective experience, Swisher and Mossberg have transformed a bare-bones, underfunded blog into an influential establishment and a trusted voice in a highly competitive industry. After years of strong growth and several recent talent additions, AllThingsD has gone live with an entirely redesigned website aimed at delivering better context and a more cohesive brand identity for the multi-columned site.

Kara Swisher has long been a source of unrivaled inside information at Silicon Valley icons like Yahoo! and Microsoft, and Walt Mossberg is widely considered one of the most credible gadget and technology analysts on the Web, so AllThingsD has greatly benefited from the respective personal brands of this powerful duo. However, with nine full-time columnists, each with their own column title, the AllThingsD brand name was often lost in the fragmentation of the site.

AllThingsD Redesign

The site is now unified under the AllThingsD.com domain, and is vertically categorized (i.e. News, Social, Mobile, Media, etc.) in an effort to provide better context for its users. More than any other element, context is the most vital component of the AllThingsD redesign. The site had consistently increased the quantity of content it produced daily, and the new design utilizes verticals that combine content from all nine columnists, providing users an all-encompassing resource from multiple perspectives. To appease the die-hard fans of any particular columnist, the new design still allows users to search by writer, acknowledging the continuing importance of each writer’s personal brand even in the new era of AllThingsD brand unity.

Beyond the functional and strategic elements of the redesign, the new AllThingsD is simply better looking. The much-wider layout helps cater to the higher-resolution videos and images the site has been sharing more frequently, and allows for much more aesthetically pleasing featured posts on the homepage.

Congratulations to Kara, Walt and the rest of the AllThingsD team on the beautiful redesign and your continued success as a leading voice on All Things Digital!

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