Google+ is not just the search giant’s effort to take on Facebook: it’s primarily an “identity service” that Google will use to help build other services.That’s according to Google chairman Eric Schmidt, who was explaining why Google+ is requiring users to stick with their real names.
As Fred Wilson points out, Schimdt’s statement raises the question of who Google+ is really for — you, or Google?
Lots of companies have tried to establish an identity system for the Web. The idea is that if users have a single trusted identity, it could ease their interactions offline and online — imagine never having to sign in to get your email or make an online purchase, for instance. Microsoft made an effort in the late 1990s with Passport, but its ambitions were thwarted by privacy advocates and the FTC. Facebook’s social graph is another effort.
Before Google+, your Google identity was really only used on Google sites. But with Google+ and the +1 button, that identity system can extend across the Web — if you’re signed in to Google+ and you +1 a particular Web site, that information can be tracked. That helps Google provide more personalised services (like search results) for you, but could also help with ad targeting.
Schmidt also said that Google believes the Internet will work better if people know that you’re a real person rather than a fake person or a dog.
Andy Carvin asked the question, then paraphrased Schimdt’s answer on — of course — a Google+ post.