On Tuesday, Google (NASDAQ:GOOG) unveiled its new Google+ social network, similar to Facebook with its streaming updates of photos, messages, comments and other content. The launch was limited in scope, a sort of “field trial” only available to a limited number of users that would allow Google to receive feedback and add or delete users as needed. But today Google had to shut down the invite mechanism after “insane demand” exposed a glitch.
Google currently accounts for 10% of the total number of hours people spent online in May, while Facebook accounted for 13%. Google hopes that its new social features will lure users away from Facebook while also redirecting them to Google’s other services and increase advertising sales.
Google’s previous attempt at a social networking tool, a Gmail component called Buzz, failed last year, and recently reached a settlement in March with the FTC to resolve concerns the application violated Google’s own privacy policies. Before Buzz, Google created Orkut in 2004, shortly after Facebook got its start, but it failed to catch on.
Google+ integrates Google Maps and Google Images to help users organize contacts within groups of friends.
Competitors to Watch: Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL), Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO), Microsoft (NASDAQ:MSFT), eBay (NASDAQ:EBAY), Amazon (NASDAQ:AMZN), Bidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), Oracle (NASDAQ:ORCL), Research in Motion (NASDAQ:RIMM), and AOL (NYSE:AOL).
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