The perception in the tech community, at least up until recently, was that Google simply didn’t understand social the way Twitter and Facebook does. The figures support this view too, with Facebook fast approaching 1 billion users and Twitter not even blinking an eye when Buzz came on the scene. Still they’ve had some mild success with their other social products so whilst they might not have been the dominant social platform so I believe they get social quite well, they’re just suffering from the superstar effect that makes any place other than first look like a lot like last. Google+ then represents something of reinvention of their previous attempts with a novel approach to modelling social interactions, and it seems to be catching on.
It’s only been 2 weeks since Google+ became available to the wider public and it’s already managed to attract an amazing 10 million users. Those users have also already shared over 1 billion articles in the short time that G+ has been available. For comparison Buzz, which I can’t seem to find accurate user information on, shared an impressive 9 million articles in 2 days a far cry from the success that G+ has been enjoying. What these numbers mean is that Google is definitely doing something right with the new platform and the users are responding in kind. However we’re still deep in the honeymoon period for Google+ and whilst their initial offering is definitely a massive step in the right direction we’ll have to wait and see if this phenomenal growth can continue.
That’s not to say the G+ platform doesn’t have the potential to do so, far from it. Right now the G+ platform stands alone in its own ecosystem with only a tenuous link to the outside world via the +1 button (which ShareThis is still yet to implement and I don’t want to install yet another button to get it). Arguably much of the success of G+’s rival platforms comes from their APIs and with the initial user traction problem out of the way G+ is poised to grab an even larger section of the market once they release their API. I believe the API will be critical to the success of G+ and not just because that’s what their competitors did.
Google+, for me at least, feels like it would be the best front end to all my social activities on the web. Whilst there are many other services out there that have been attempting to be the portal to online social networking none of them have managed to capture my attention in quite the same way as G+ has done. The circles feature of G+ is also very conducive to aggregation as I could easily put all my LinkedIn contacts in Colleagues, Twitter in Following and Facebook friends in well, the obvious place. Then my G+ stream would become the magical single pane of glass I’d go to for all my social shenanigans and those who weren’t on G+ would still be connected to me through their network of choice.
That last point is key as whilst G+’s growth is impressive it’s still really only hitting a very specific niche, mostly tech enthusiasts and early adopters. That’s not a small market by any stretch of the imagination but since less than 20% of my social circle has made their way onto G+ from Facebook the ability to communicate cross platforms will be one of the drivers of growth for this platform. Whilst I’d love G+ to become the dominant platform it’s still 740 million users short of hitting that goal and Facebook has a 7 year lead on them with this. It’s not impossible, especially with the kind of resources and smarts Google has to throw at the problem, but it’s not a problem that can be solved by technology alone.
Google+ is definitely on track to be a serious contender to Facebook but its still very early days for the service. What’s ahead of Google is a long, uphill battle against an incumbent that’s managed to take down several competitors already and has established themselves as the de-facto social network. Unlike like their other social experiments before it Google+ has the most potential to bring about change in the online social networking ecosystem and with a wildly successful 2 weeks under their belt Google is poised to become a serious competitor, if not the one to beat.
In a very eerie concidence with my post yesterday about being an early adopter of Sony’s technology it seems that there’s been a “leak” of the new kid on the block, the PSP Go. There’s a couple places talking about it and here’s what they have to say:
Look up there, folks. That’s the future of Sony’s hopes and dreams in the handheld gaming sector. With just hours to go before the company’s official E3 2009 press event, it looks like the pieces are all coming together. First a UMD-less game release, then a highly credible mole giving the PSP Go a name, and now — live action shots. The images here were sourced from an obviously slipped June 2009 Qore video, and aside from giving us a look at the slider-based system (which, let’s be honest, looks a ton like the questionably successful mylo), we’re also told that it’ll tout 16GB of internal memory, built-in Bluetooth and an undisclosed memory slot. If all goes well, it’ll ship this Fall for a price to be determined, and it’s actually not slated to replace the PSP-3000, as both of ’em will attempt to live on store shelves harmoniously… at least for awhile. Oh, and don’t worry — we’ll be on hand in LA to bring you all the impressions we can muster early next week.
[Via PlayStation Forums, thanks Matt and A1]
Update: Video is now after the break! Thanks adizzy615!
Update 3: A few more official specifications are flowing from the full Qore video (pardon the sync issues). Here’s the dirt:
- 3.8-inch display (resolution is undisclosed)
- 43 percent lighter than the PSP-3000
- 16GB of Flash storage
- Bluetooth built-in; supports handset tethering and BT headsets
- No UMD drive
- Memory Stick Micro slot
- New Gran Turismo, Little Big Planet and new Metal Gear Solid (!) on the way
- Full PlayStation Network support (movie and TV rentals / purchases)
- Integration with PlayStation 3 (works the same as the PSP-3000 does)
- Sony views each of its products as “10-year lifecycle products,” so the PSP “needs to live on.”
Probably one of the most interesting developments is Sony’s dropping of the UMD format from the new device in favour of large internal storage. Now whilst I’m a dribbling moronic fan boy when it comes to all things Sony I can’t say I was too impressed when they decided to release yet another media format for their handheld console. I mean sure I can understand the memory cards (at least I can use them in other Sony stuff) but the UMD was just another format that didn’t need to exist and of course one of the most popular homebrew apps are ISO loaders. Granted there will be a majority of users out there who use that to pirate games but anyone can tell you that loading your game onto your memory stick improves battery life, reduces load time and saves you the hassle of carrying around those annoying discs. I’m glad Sony has wised up on that one.
With the removal of the drive and the addition of Bluetooth and a larger display it does make this upgraded PSP a pretty attractive purchase to someone like me. When the PSP slim came out I didn’t buy one because it was pretty debatable how much I would gain from going to such a device. This one on the other hand has things I can’t get in my current PSP (now almost 4 years old as well) so it’s pretty much guaranteed I’ll get one. Hopefully they do some awesome integration with it so that I can use it in certain games, but that’s up to the developers of course.
Now onto the leak itself. Colour me sceptical but whilst everyone is saying this was a slip up I can’t really see it that way. There’s always a lot of buzz and hype when it comes that time every year for E3 (even though it’s had a severe decline in the recent years due to it’s “reorganisation”) and the easiest way to make sure you’re talked about at the show is to release some details early so that the press will want to report on that to do the old confirm/deny/opinion piece. The amount of information that we’ve been fed by this leak is pretty substantial so there’s not going to be any rush to report on Sony’s next big handheld so what we’ll see instead will be the hands-on reports and possibly some videos of it running. I can’t help but feel that this was an attempted leak gone a little too far, killing some of the buzz that it would have seen at E3.
But then again I’m a cynical person when it comes to these things. Until I see the big corporations huffing and puffing and trying to blow the houses down of the people who leaked the photos/specs/videos I don’t believe that it really was a leak. Sony confirmed all the details shortly after the leak as well, raising my eyebrow even further.
Still it looks like a good evolution of the PSP handheld and with mine tickling the 4 year mark you can bet that I’ll be looking to get one of these to have a fiddle with in the future.
In the midst of all the budget brouhaha we’d be forgiven for missing some of the finer implementation details. One thing that I managed to glaze over was the fact that this year’s budget has plans in it for Australia to establish its own space science program:
An Innovation and Higher Education System for the 21st Century — Australian Space Science Program
Expense ($m) 2008‑09 2009‑10 2010‑11 2011‑12 2012‑13 Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research – 6.4 12.9 14.1 15.1
The Government will provide $48.6 million over four years to support the establishment of the Australian Space Science Program.
Funding of $40.0 million over four years will be available for the establishment of the Australian Space Research Program, which will support space research, innovation and skills development.
Funding of $8.6 million over four years will help establish a Space Policy Unit in the Department of Innovation, Industry, Science and Research to coordinate Australia’s national and international civil space activities, including partnerships with international space agencies.
It’s an interesting proposal. Australia as a nation doesn’t have the capital to implement a fully fledged space program of the likes of Russia and the USA (despite our resource rich country) but we do have quite a lot of people who are skilled in the area of aeronautics, and this program will be aimed at keeping those people in Australia. Currently if you want to do any serious space research you’ll usually be looking overseas to further your career, unless you’re expertise lies in Astronomy. This is a problem Australia faces not only in the area of aeronautics and quite a lot of the budget looks at stopping the brain drain that we’ve been suffering for quite a long time.
As a first step to a real space program this is probably the best move I could hope for. The establishment of the Space Policy Unit will mean that Australia will finally have a set of regulations in place for conducting activities in the aeronautical field. What this means, hopefully, is that private space companies will look to Australia as a place where they can establish their businesses. We already have a vast amount of local resources available to supply such companies and a large amount of unused landmass that could be dedicated to private launch facilities. Whilst this is probably a pipe dream for the next 10 years or so it does give that foot in the door needed to spur further interest along for the future.
So what can we expect from this program? Well I’d probably put my money down onto experiments that have been designed in Australia being flown on other countries satellites and space stations as well as improved funding for current projects. $40 million over 4 years really isn’t enough to even launch a single satellite by itself (I’m including the rocket cost in there, I know you can get things like cubesat for micro experiments) but it is more then enough to design a few space capable experiments that could be mounted on a probe or satellite. The extra funding will help out with Australia’s space presence overall, but its effects will be hard to judge until its actually implemented.
So there you have it, Australia is taking the first step towards space. About. Bloody. Time.