Google+ launched in private beta on June 28th. 55 days on and it’s still technically in private beta.
While there’s currently a widespread invitation system in place, which lets anyone invited sign up in a matter of minutes, most “normals” who visit http://google.com/plus are unable to login or register because “they need an invite”. And “normals” aren’t like geeky early adopters who will go out of their way to hunt down an invitation.
Google+ needs to give access to anyone and everyone now without the need for an invite. There are still people using it who are consistently passionate about the product (myself included) and if Google opens up now they’ll spend hours of their time convincing friends and family to join. But as things stand now, with the whole invitation malarkey, their devotion will eventually waver.
There is an art to to the invitation process. Google nailed it at the start by ushering in the press and tech influencers. Then it teased people with invites and fake-loopholes to get them to invite friends and family. And when people got bored of that, that’s when Google should have opened up to the masses. Instead, it waited, and unfortunately, excitement levels are spiralling downwards.
The product itself is magnificent, genuinely, but it’s the people that use it that are going to bring in the masses and as with any product, no matter how magnificent, the passion wears off. And while users might praise the product and all the things it can do – the longer Google waits, the less passionate the pleads from Google+’s enthusiasts for their friends and family to leave Facebook and try Google’s new social network.
Then there’s the API. Most geeks are well aware of the impact of Twitter’s early API launch– it boomed. An API creates a developer community that a modern web service needs. If Google releases an API it will open up unforeseen opportunities and will give its current userbase plenty of new toys to play with, give the press plenty more to write about and therefore will bring in a multitude of new users.
It’s quite simple. People use social networks that contain their friends, family and colleagues. The longer Google waits, the fewer enthusiastic current users there are, the less interested the general public is to try it out. And what developer wants to build something that few people will try?
Without being overly dramatic, open up before it’s too late Google.