Two weeks ago Google announced the launch of Google+ application sign-ins, which at a glance is the same as what Facebook and Twitter have been doing for a while. It basically lets Google+ users sign-in to apps using their Google+ profile information and allows users to share their user data from a service directly to their Google+ profile page. Much like Facebook Connect, it also allows them to sign in to web and mobile services and apps without having to create new user profiles while giving app developers the option to bring in these users social graph to make their service more relevant to users.
So, Facebook and Twitter is already doing this and its pretty logical that is makes sense for Google to do this as well. But what do they add in addition to the stuff we used to – and more importantly where can it take them strategically?
What it means for users and developers
Apart from the stuff mentioned, the addition of application sign-in to the Google+ platform enables users to install android apps from 3rd party sites and services with one click. For users this lowers the barriers for getting relevant apps in the context where the user read about them and although this functionality is only available for free apps right now, this will probably lead to more app installs for developers and an increase in revenue once the functionality is opened up for paid apps as well.
In addition, the launch presents new functionality and buttons that allow developers to present users with over a 100 actions that can be added to a Google+ post. These actions can be to buy a service, review a product or listen to a song. “Sharing for actions” in this way, will probably make it easier to turn a “call for action” to a real conversion.
The application sign-in also allow users to selectively share contents from services to their Google+ stream. “Selectively” is the keyword here. As Google are aware of the issues with spam that social networks (read Facebook) can get, they have built this update functionality to let users share their updates with their “circles” only if they actively choose to do so.
This selective sharing, opens up for other user perspectives as well. Since the content is private to the user as default, Google enables the user to use them as the digital back-up or repository, saving all the users activity and actions for his or her own sake. Combining this last point with Google’s supposedly safer solution – using the same two-factor authentication that the Google services use today – this could end up being a central solution for saving or documenting people’s digital activities.
The new functionality will presumably lead to an increase in activity and data and this increase needs to be handled properly in order to be valuable to developers. Here Google’s strength around analytics come in handy and the application sign-in provide a strong value proposition to the eco-system of third party services that could give Google an edge in the competition with Facebook in the battle of connecting the internet to their platforms.
What is means for Google in the long run
Google is in the search business and all their activities can be linked to search activities. Therefore business development and innovative initiatives are measured on how they contribute to search rather than being a profit center in its own right. Analyst Horace Dediu claims Android is an example of this as it shows growth at rapid pace but basically provides Samsung more revenue than Google.
Based on this, the Google+ application sign-in makes a lot of sense, as it provide even more Google functionality to services outside its own eco-system of branded services by providing developers with more than just “eyeballs” or traffic to their services.
In addition, Google can differentiate themselves from e.g. Facebook by limiting the sharing of content as their business model is not based on the networks effect of their users activity but rather their quality (in the sense that they can provide better search results and targeted ads the more qualitative information they have on you).
The other main differentiator is the ability to give 3rd party services a mobile incentive to use the application login by linking it to GooglePlay and its app store. This is reflected also by the partners Google have launched the application sign-in with – such as the Guardian, Fitbit, Shazam among others.
In the end, the launch of Google+ application sign-in is more tactical than strategic but it will introduce new functionality to developers which in turn will be able to solve user needs in new and improved ways. How do you think this launch will effect Google+ and the connectivity between Google and 3rd party developers?