TechCrunch had a chat with Google Executive Chairman, Eric Schmidt.
How will you gauge the success of Plus?
Well its been out for a week. So, the initial indications are quite positive. They would be an infinite number of people are unhappy because they don't have their invitations.
Yes, I apologize.
So the first week data would be an infinite amount of interest in the invitation which and we're rate limited, cause we want to scale, we want to learn how to scale the systems, is that right? And if you read the reviews, people seem to understand that it's somewhat different from Facebook, which is another sort of criteria.
Well, yeah, and let me describe those. I think that those would, too. The current inclination of the company is to invest heavily. I want to figure out a way to say this in a way that doesn't sound weird. We test stuff, and when it works, we put a lot more emphasis on it. So, Google Plus, all the signs are very positive so now the whole company is now ramping up on top of it.
But obviously after a week, you know you don't know. There have been a couple, a couple of cases, excuse me, where there were a couple of privacy bugs which were fixed in a few days. You know, stuff like that. Which is the purpose of why we're doing it. It's called a closed beta for a reason. The differences are the first.
I'll give you my opinion.
So the first difference is that circles, circles are organized around the set of relationships that you in fact have in life. So, in my case I have you know, five, six, seven sort of slightly overlapping group of people.
I really do behave differently with respect to information between those people. Circles is particularly well-suited to sort of tight contact list that you have in your, on your phone. You know, the people you call all the time, that kind of stuff. Sort of the tight links problem and so that's a differentiator and people seem to like that.
They like the UI. They like, they understand it intuitively. It makes sense. Circle, the other thing so far that I agree with is that we have a somewhat different view of privacy. Privacy defaults are different, the way we handle it is different, and so forth. So those are two, those are two differences.
Do you mean that you have more control as a consumer, or what?
You have more control, but also the defaults are different.
Okay. More control than a Facebook user potentially.
Well again, I don't want to overstate it because if you work hard on Facebook-
-I don't want to do Facebook review. You guys can do this yourselves.
But it is hard work to set this.
Again I'll let you verbalize it, but fundamentally we try to, try to build a system that you could use for the relationships that you manage at the time. And the background of this, again, I want to emphasize. The problem that the internet has is in the people who built the internet did not get a stable version of idenitity.
There's not a, you need identity. Identity in a sense you are a person, this is who you are, this is what you're up to, these are your friends and so forth.
So Facebook has done a pretty good job of using identity. The way they do identity is they disabiguate names by your friends.
So, if your name is John Smith. They show you a bunch of John Smiths and they say pick the John Smith and you would disambiguate based on your friends. Which is very clever, by the way. Cause names are not necesarily so unique.
But the internet needs and identity server and people have been confused, as I have talked about this many times. But the issue in the internet is not the lack of Facebook and the internet is the lack of identity. If you had a strong and clear identity there's a lot of things that you could do with people's permission and so on and so on.
And it does not then follow that you should also give up anonymity. You want to be able to be anonymous. And you also want to opt in be to have an identity. With the identity we can provide better services. The most obvious one has to do with like YouTube recommendations search recommendations so forth and so on.
We can do this based on who you are accurately and more so who your friends are. So, as we move ourselves on to what you think of as Google Plus, it gets, there's a nice set of product improvements in core search, core YouTube, maps and so forth and so on which should drive adoption.
How satisfied are you with currently how you've deployed the social graph with Google Plus and such? I mean, are you thinking of maybe filling in now with other products you can keep?
Yeah and there's a lot coming.
Do you want to elaborate on it?
No. No, but I do, and I'm sorry you don't have your invitation, you should try the hangout stuff through. It's really neat. You should try a thing that they haven't neat feature where you take a photograph and it's immediately on your circles.
Yeah, they have a bunch of stuff like that and there's lot of that comming. Again, we're trying to use the identity infrastructure to make the Google products really interesting. And hangouts is fun and it shows off some of our video conferencing capabilities but in a particularly fun way.
If you have a Google profile, and are active on Plus, do you automatically start seeing recommended search, more personalized search.
You have, first place, you have control over this. If you basically if we know. In the scenario where your friends have opted in and you have a friends list and you have opted them that list in the answer is yes, search will get better. But again, you won't see much now because that technology is being improved right now.
Are business accounts and ads something you'll introduce soon with Plus?
I don't know. The general philosophy well, you can see the answers as a philosophy. It's a week into it, on the assumption that it grows, scales, etc. Which it looks like it will, then you're going to someone's calling you and it's okay you can say "Hello!". You can say " Hello!"
The assumption that everything will move over to using the Plus infrastructure over time.
Can you talk a little bit about how people are using it? How much time they're spending on it.
Even for preliminary indications like what things are proving particularly popular.
How many people were blocked who had invitations?
A lot, like millions.
Like 20 million?
I don't know, but we were reviewing it on Monday, what did is today, yesterday.
Yes, I came in yesterday, last night. Yesterday we had a review on this and it's like the biggest problem that they're dealing with. So, I want to answer your question. We've been using earlier versions of this internally.
And the things that we discovered so far were that the email solicitations, getting people to sign up worked, one thing we learned. Another we learn was that hangouts, which is essentially group video conferencing that's simple and with your friends, is very popular among a younger demographic late at night.
I want to be very, its not chatroulette. I hope that's clear.
What's the fate of Buzz, will that stay within Gmail? Or will there be a chance that gets incorporated into...
I'm assuming. Again, this are all reasonable questions. I think that imagine the wave going through the company.
Sorry about the wave. Imagine now all of those properties adopting the circles metaphor, Buzz adopting that as well, Gmail adopting it. If you think about it, Gmail which you really want with Gmail is you want all your normal contact list plus you want to have be able to deal with the circles as emails.
So again, think of Circles is an organizing principle around people you care about and think about everything you use in the older way and imagine taking circles and applying it to them.
That's good. That's what they're doing. How many people are testing Google Plus right now?
I don't know but it's millions, it's a lot.
Is personal identity on the web going to be in your game I mean. It seems like you talk about an identity provider for the web. There's one issue of driver's license is in the US.
That is because it is government regulated but you could imagine private sector having lots of different government, you know drivers licenses and competing for identity and providing better or worse, as long as they were regulated in that line. First cause its, I may have over said, " I was trying to put in an historical of context.
There will be multiple so just it would be multiple sources of identity and it would be multiple sources of essentially social networks at the technical level, meaning the link structure of who your friends are and so forth. All the companies that I've been talking with, a little companies and so forth, all understand the power of these networks, yeah as an example.
What they do is they generate these networks naturally, so an example would be that your BBM network if you're a Blackberry user is such an example. WhatsApp is an example of a company that has such a network that they don't express it that way, they don't package it that way. You know it's hard to do it as scale, and so forth and so on.
Will plus pursue some kind of kindle connect strategy where it'll be easy to, without much friction use your Google identity on everywhere else?
That is the objective. It requires the agreement of the other companies.
So, it sounds relative whether we look at it then.
At the risk of sounding incredibly naive, did you approach Facebook about letting people import Facebook friends in Google Plus. Or any other type of that?
I can assure you we have had ongoing conversations with Facebook for at least two years on subject of this. And if you go back into using your favorite search engine, take a look at what happens after. Take a look at Gmail contact importation. As a good example of a transaction.
It's a rabbit hole.
So, I'll let you do your research.