Google is being extra cautious about opening up Google+ to developers to make sure it doesn’t get burned by privacy concerns.
That’s what we gather from an interesting conversation that Google executive Vic Gundotra had with a startup CEO at I/O, the big conference the Web giant is holding in San Francisco.
Matt Michelsen, the CEO of Backplane, a platform that helps celebrities manage their online fans, quizzed Gundotra on why Google+ wasn’t more open to developers. (Google Ventures has invested in Backplane.)
Google offers some tools to hook into Google+, but developers can’t yet do what they really want — which is to be able to post directly into users’ Google+ streams the way they can with Facebook and Twitter.
Gundotra is known as a master of developer relations, a role he performed at Microsoft before Google recruited him in 2006. His first job at Google was promoting the Android operating system to developers. When he took over Google+, people expected it to be very developer-friendly. That didn’t turn out to be the case.
“Look at Facebook. Look at Google Buzz,” Gundotra told Michelsen. “If you do it wrong, you get blasted.”
Facebook has often been criticised for taking risks with users’ privacy, and Google got, well, blasted for exposing lists of people that Google Buzz readers swapped email with.
But it’s frustrating not to have the same kind of third-party tools you can use with Facebook and Twitter to manage Google+ pages.
So you can understand Gundotra’s caution—as well as Michelsen’s impatience.