Thursday, 30 June 2011
Got my invite to Google + last night, and have spent a happy few hours unwrapping its presents - it's just like Xmas, but this is actually fun! However.....
This blog post can be read at 5tth.blogspot.com
I spy a huge problem for anyone on a halfway crap broadband connection, or even the USC.
Google+, for those who don't know, is Google's next attempt at social networking like Facebook, Linkedin, Twitter and more all rolled into one, and right now it seems to be gathering fans and positive feedback from the limited number of people who have been let in on the first round of invites. The invite system has had to be closed down within just a few hours because of the massive demand, but many of the people already in are the hardcore early adopters who are putting this through its paces as I write.
So, I've played on it quite extensively over the last few hours, and Google are saying that so far only a few features have been rolled out - there is obviously much more to come. The one that I can see causing immediate problems for broadband is Hangouts.
Hangouts let you invite, at present, up to 10 people into a video, audio and chat room. Like Skype on steroids really. Judging by what Matt Cutts (he of Google fame) is saying in Robert Scoble's profile, there are plans to make Hangouts way more funky yet - more people, more features etc. All of these will require bandwidth at the user's end. Not only can you do video chats, but you can also group view YouTube videos and comment on them. And that's just for starters....Wait till people are in 5 hangouts at the same time; I had 7 open at one point to see how good my multi-tasking is (!) and the connection just couldn't cope, despite my pleas!
Bear in mind, I'm looking at this for clients at the moment and not for fun, then the possible business uses are endless. And hence the likely use of bandwidth is only ever likely to increase as Hangouts are broadened and functionality is added. Chuck it into a friends and family environment and the likelihood is that this could totally hammer bandwidth on your average so-called fast broadband connection in the UK, up and down.
Just because right now it only has a Youtube button doesn't mean that within days or weeks Google won't add "share your own video", "record this group" and multiple other possibilities. This means that, as of tonight, the USC is totally insufficient for the likely places that Google's social network is going. And the general feeling right now seems to be that Hangouts are going to be the 'must have' app that sees Google+ taking off.
Whilst Wave and Buzz fell at an early hurdle, it seems Google has learned from those mistakes and there is much in Google+ which gives early indications that Google have no intention of getting "social" wrong again. It would also seem that Google are going to use Google+ to force the fibre agenda forwards, and that anyone who hasn't worked out that Google need fibre to get everyone maxxing out on Google properties...well....it's time to get IT fast!
Facebook may well push an upgrade out quite quickly on the back of this - Facebook chat has been pretty shoddy to date, showing FB up as an almost analogue property. With Skype belonging to Microsoft, and Google launching chat and video on day one in Google+, Facebook seems to be a bit of an outsider at the moment on the VOIP and video front. But Facebook has a fair amount of clout and money and has undoubtedly been working on this for some time because it is a much-needed and wanted feature for any social network.
This video conferencing feature, plus the ability to group view and share videos will start to consume bandwidth. And those who cannot chat with at least 9 of their mates/colleagues/family members will inevitably feel left out. I don't yet have any info on the bandwidth that Hangouts consumes, but having tracked down quite a few of the Google development team in the last few hours, I hope an answer will be forthcoming quite shortly...