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Mike Ruffolo

The Social War Arrives

Last week, Google, the Mountain View-based web hydra, launched its long-in-the-works social network Google+. In a direct affront to the Bay area Leviathan, Facebook—and its status as king of social media—the competition has erupted from fierce HR face-offs for talent to an all out race for feature supremacy and user experience. But is feature supremacy enough for Google to climb Mt. Social, or will they run out of steam along the rocky climb?In its current iteration, Google+ provides users a mix of everything you’ve wanted out of a social network and a vision of potential. The inclusion of Social Circles is a step that many users will be able to stand up and cheer about, giving you the user the ability to easily organize your contacts into distinct groups.“Groups? You’re telling me that that’s really the thing that’s going to make me cheer for Google+ and switch from Facebook?”Well, not entirely, but it is a piece of the puzzle. As Paul Adams, former head of user experience at Google and now Facebook’s global experience manager, pointed out last year in his presentation “The Real Life Social Network,” people have more than one “life.” “People have multiple independent groups of friends,” he said. They have their friends from school, their childhood friends, their coworkers, acquaintances, family, and more. As I’m sure you’ve all experienced firsthand at some point, this can lead to uncomfortable situations where people from different aspects of the user’s life can clash, or see something they might not have wanted certain groups to know about. Solving this issue is what Social Circles in Google+ was intended for, where you decide the friends you want to share with.But is this a good thing? For the user, privacy and control over their data will always be desired. For the future of Google+, though?… Read More

Motorola acquisition is about much more than patents

“Together, we will create amazing user experiences that supercharge the entire Android ecosystem for the benefit of consumers, partners, and developers everywhere,” said Larry Page, the co-founder and recently appointed CEO of Mountain View giant Google. This is, of course, in response to their acquisition of Motorola Mobility from Motorola Inc. for 12.5 billion dollars.His open letter is short, sweet, and at the same time seemingly says nothing at all while saying more about the future of Android and mobile space than any other comment all year. It’s an open acknowledgement of the acquisition as a maneuver for greater user experience. This move to become both an operating system (OS) licenser and an original equipment manufacturer (OEM) takes Google and the Android platform in a noticeable step toward its largest and only (sorry, RIM) competitors: Apple and the iOS.While Android has made big leaps in the mobile market from its humble launch in late-2008 to now owning the best-selling smartphone platform in the world, there’s an issue that iOS hasn’t had to deal with: fragmentation. While a new iPhone launches almost every year—along with an updated version of iOS for almost all previous iPhones—Android phones are often placed in some sort of limbo on their status for updates due to OEM customizations and skins. This leads to issues within the app store when apps crash on some hardware configurations or, worse from a user experience point of view, work on others at a snail’s pace.Apple and the iPhone have been able to largely avoid this problem by keeping a consistent philosophy across its product lines. By controlling both the hardware and software, Apple is able to foresee exactly what their customers will experience, something that’s far too difficult for Google to do with the thousands of permutations possible on Android… Read More