The last 3 weeks have seen, in my opinion, the most interesting development in the Internet since the launch of the iPhone. I’m talking about the successful launch of Google Plus.

Google what?

After years of sitting back and letting Facebook (and to a lesser extent, Twitter) dominate the social networking market, Google appears to have finally figured out how to make a social network that people actually want to use. They tried a couple of times with products that were largely incomprehensible (Google Wave) or privacy-invading (Google Buzz) but this time it looks like they have absolutely nailed it.

Google Plus has a number of big advantages over both Facebook and Twitter.

  • You can filter your news stream much more easily, so you don’t need to see all the stupid spam updates from people playing Mafia Wars or companies hawking their products.
  • You can follow celebrities like in Twitter, but they can send much better updates that aren’t restricted to 140 characters and really good discussions can develop.
  • Videoconferencing becomes ridiculously easy, especially compared to Skype. I believe this is its real killer feature!

Will Google Plus lure people away from Facebook with its promise of a less spammy and more useful experience?

If you’re not a member of the Facebook/Twitter generation, you probably don’t care, but you cannot ignore the numbers. The graph above shows the incredible growth of Google+ compared to Facebook and Twitter (who admittedly had to build their user bases from scratch). As of  July 28, 2011, Google Plus already has more than 20 million members – and it hasn’t even been released to the general public yet! 

The last couple of days have seen some unhappy Google+ users, as Google has suspended accounts set up as business pages. Google says that Google+ is only for individuals at the moment and you’re supposed to use your real name when you set up your account (so no parody accounts like you see on Twitter or business pages like on Facebook). Facebook is using Google+’s no-business policy to attract businesses by announcing Facebook for Business, a step-by step guide to using Facebook to market your business. But Google will definitely let businesses use Google+ once this initial testing period is over.

And then it really will be game on!

Right now, I’m loving Google Plus – and if you want an invite, please let me know.