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Google's updates Maps and Google+



Google recently announced a bunch of updates to its products and services. The most interesting were the updates to Maps and Google+. The updates are aimed at better user experience, increasing user base and increasing monetization opportunities. But the changes to Google+ and Maps couldn't be more contrasting.

The new Maps is a lot more personalized, incorporates social features and provides new ways of revenue generation through the application. Until now, irrespective of who searched for places or directions on Google Maps, the results would be the same. The shortest route shown would be the same. But now, the experience on Maps is similar to search. If you search for directions, your previous search history will factor in allowing Maps to build a story around your search. It will show you not just the shortest route to your destination, but things on the way you might like. The idea behind this has been to allow Maps to give the user directions as though a good friend who knew her well would do.

With these changes, Google has stepped into Foursquare and Yelp territory, and has made it extremely difficult for new competitors to enter the maps space. It might even put the likes of Foursquare out of business in time.

While Maps has seen all these introductions that are bound to enhance user experience several times over, the changes to Google+ seem to be purely cosmetic. Of course, the new interface is absolutely brilliant as they have integrated features from Facebook and Pinterest. But, even with a better interface, it is nowhere near convincing Facebook loyals from switching to Google+.

What Google+ needs is not user interface changes, as the utility it provides is minimal. The reason nobody wants to switch from Facebook to Google+ is because of the deep entrenchments in terms of data and connections. Having invested years on Facebook, very few people are willing to start over on Google+ just because it provides a better interface.

Google+ needs to focus on the users who are still beginning their life online. They have to target the early teens and be the preferred choice for that segment. Then, they can take on Facebook in a few years. If they want Facebook users to switch, then they have to focus on providing a way to import the data and connections from Facebook. The user experience is secondary.

Google has found ways to provide more and more value on Maps, but Google+ is lagging far behind on that front.

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